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THE MODERN LIBRARY
OF THE W O R L D'S BEST BOOKS
THE BEST OF S.J. PERELMAN
The publishers will be pleased to send, upon request, an
illustrated folder setting forth the purpose and scope of
THE MODERN LIBRARY, and listing each volume
in the series. Every reader of books will find titles he
has been looking for, handsomely printed, in definitive
editions, and at an unusually low price.
OTHER BOOKS BY S. J. PERELMAN
Dawn Ginsbergh's Revenge
Parlor, Bedlam and Bath
(With Quentin Reynolds)
Strictly from Hunger
Look Who's Talking!
The Dream Department
Crazy Like a Fox
Keep It Crisp
THE BEST OF
With a Critical Introduction by
copyright, 1931, i93 2 > *933> 1 934> 1 91$> *93 6 > 1 937^ *93 8 >
1939, 1940, 1941, i94 2 > x 943> *944> x 94 6 > x 947>
BY S. J . PERELMAN
Renewed, 1959, i960, 1962
Acknowledgments are due The New Yorker, in which
most of these stories first appeared, and College Humor,
Judge, Life, Contact and Stage Magazine for permission
to reprint material which was first published in their pages.
Published in New York by Random House, Inc.,
Distributed in Canada by Random House of Canada Limited, Toronto.
THE MODERN LIBRARY
is published by Random House, inc.
BENNETT CERF • DONALD S. KLOPFER
Manufactured in the United States of America by H. Wolff
TO ROBERT C.BENCHLEY
Introduction by Sidney Namlerep ix
Kitchen Bouquet 3
somewheee a roscoe ... 9
Waiting for Santy i 5
The Idol's Eye 19
Beauty and the Bee 2 5
Is there an Osteosynchrondroitrician in the
Abby, This Is Your Father 35
buffalos of the world, unite! 42
Sauce for the Gander 46
Frou-Frou, or Vertigo Revisited 53
A Farewell to Omsk 64
Nothing but the Tooth 68
Woodman, Don't Spare that Tree! 73
Strictly from Hunger 79
P-s-s-t, Partner, Your Peristalsis Is Showing 92
A Pox on You, Mine Goodly Host 98
Slow— Dangerous Foibles Ahead! 103
Footnote on the Yellow Peril
Midwinter Facial Trends
The Love Decoy 124
To Sleep, Perchance to Steam 1 30
Down with the Restoration! 1 35
The Body Beautiful 140
Poisonous Mushrooms 145
Button, Button, Whos Got the Blend? 149
Boy Meets Girl Meets Foot 155
What Am I Doing Away from Home? 161
Hold that Christmas Tiger! 166
Smugglers in the Dust 171
Beat Me, Post-Impressionist Daddy 178
Tomorrow— Fairly Cloudy 185
Sweet and Hot 192
Seedlings of Desire 198
kltchenware, notions, llghts, action, camera! 205
Captain Future, Block that Kick! 210
Adorable, Taxable You 218
A Couple of Quick Ones 223
1. Arthur Kober
2. VlNCENTE MlNNELLI
Avocado, or the Future of Eating 238
You Should Live So, Walden Pond 242
Swing Out, Sweet Chariot 246
Second-Class Matter 252
Wholly Cleaning and Dyeing 2 59
Well, Roll Me in a Turkish Towel! 264
Physician, Steel Thyself 270
Pale Hands I Loathe 279
Insert Flap "A" and Throw Away 285
Farewell, My Lovely Appetizer 291
In any consideration of S. J. Perelman— and S. J.
Perelman certainly deserves the same consideration one
accords old ladies on street cars, babies traveling unescort-
ed on planes, and the feeble-minded generally— it is impor-
tant to remember the crushing, the well-nigh intolerable
odds under which the man has struggled to produce what
may well be, in the verdict of history, the most picayune
prose ever produced in America. Denied every advantage,
beset and plagued by ill fortune and a disposition so
crabbed as to make Alexander Pope and Dr. Johnson seem
sunny by contrast, he has nevertheless managed to belt out
a series of books each less distinguished than its predeces-
sor, each a milestone of bombast, conceit, pedantry, and
strutting pomposity. In his pages proliferate all the weird
grammatical flora tabulated by H. W. Fowler in his Mod-
em English Usage— the Elegant Variation, the Facetious
Zeugma, the Cast-iron Idiom, the Battered Ornament,
the BowerVBird Phrase, the Sturdy Indefensible, the
Side-Slip, and the Unequal Yokefellow. His work is a
museum of mediocrity, a monument to the truly banal.
What Flaubert did to the French bourgeois in Bouvard
and Pecuchet, what Pizarro did to the Incas, what Jack
Dempsey did to Paolino Uzcudun, S. J. Perelman has
done to American belles-lettres.
It is customary to palliate the shortcomings of certain
eminent men by pleading their physical drawbacks. Dos-
toievsky's epilepsy, Beethoven's deafness and Milton's
blindness have all been served up on occasion to explain
their vagaries. The same must be done for S. J. Perelman,
except that he has labored under a far greater handicap.
Extraordinary though it may seem, his entire output over
the past two decades has been achieved without benefit of
brain. The plain medical fact which cannot be blinked
(and if we are to blink it, we must accept the conse-
quences ) is that his skull is little more than a hollow gourd,
a mere bony knob on which reposes a battered Herbert
Johnson hat. How he contrives to fulfil the ordinary obli-
gations of everyday life— to get to his office, philander
with his secretary, bedevil his wife, and terrorize his chil-
dren—is one of those mysteries of science like the common
cold or mixed bathing. The rest of his physique is even
less prepossessing. Under a forehead roughly comparable
to that of the Javanese or the Piltdown Man are visible a
pair of tiny pig eyes, lit up alternately by greed and con-
cupiscence. His nose, broken in childhood by a self-inflic-
ted blow with a hockey stick, has a prehensile tip, ever quick
to smell out an insult; at the least suspicion of an affront,
Perelman, who has the pride of a Spanish grandee, has
been known to whip out his sword-cane and hide in the
nearest closet. He has a good figure, if not a spectacular
one; above the hips, a barrel chest and a barrel belly form
a single plastic unit which bobbles uncertainly on a pair
of skinny shanks. In motion, the man's body may best be
likened to a New Bedford whaler in the teeth of an equi-
noctial gale; in repose, it is strongly reminiscent of a giant
sloth. In point of fact, from what small exterior evidence
we possess, it would appear that he has modeled himself
closely on that luckless animal. A monstrous Indolence,
cheek by jowl with the kind of irascibility displayed by a
Vermont postmaster while sorting the morning mail, is
perhaps his chief characteristic. Small wonder that he
should have chosen for his book-plate that significant
Revolutionary emblem, a crouched rattlesnake above the
terse injunction, "Don't Tread on Me/'
But these idiosyncrasies, however striking, bear no more
reference to Perelman's work than Landru's social graces
did to his. Really to comprehend his writing (a project on
a par with understanding Chichen-itza), one should ex-
amine random passages. Let us select a few instances and
explore, without rancor, their sources and implications.
Take, for example, the two sentences in the essay called
"Kitchen Bouquet" which opens this volume. The au-
thor is speaking of a servant he employed briefly one sum-
mer: "For some reason I never could fathom, unless it
was that I occasionally wore a Tattersall vest, William
persisted in regarding me as a racing man. He could recall
every entry in the Cesarewitch Sweepstakes since 1899
and did, but faced with a pot roast, he assumed a wooden
incomprehension that would have done credit to a Digger
Indian." Now, although Perelman deliberately disavows
any knowledge of racing, the references to the Tattersall
vest and the Cesarewitch Sweepstakes mark him as an
habitue of the tracks. Yet it can be stated with absolute
authority that his closest contact with horse-hair was a
short snooze on a Victorian sofa in 1916. The actual ori-
gin of these allusions was as follows. Some twenty-four
years ago, he borrowed and wore to a junior tea-dance
jit his university a Tattersall vest, a circumstance which
apparently impressed itself on the snobbish adolescent
mind. Ten years later, in the English Bar at Chantilly, he
overheard two elderly jockeys heatedly discussing the
Cesarewitch. It was therefore inevitable that, since Perel-
man suffers from what psychologists euphemistically term
total recall, he should have dredged up these references
when the opportunity arose. Anyone with a primitive
sense of decency would have hesitated to exhume them,
but this scavenger, this literary ghoul whose exploits would
horrify a Scottish medical school, sticks at nothing. With
fiendish nonchalance and a complete lack of reverence
for good form, he plucks words out of context, ravishes
them, and makes off whistling as his victims sob brokenly
into the bolster.
But it is when the reader comes face to face with a
gigantic kitchen midden like "Scenario/' the eleventh ar-
ticle in this collection, that his imagination reels. What
is one to say of such deplorable lapses of logic and de-
corum as "Gentlemen, I give you Martha Custis, hetman
of the Don Cossacks, her features etched with the fragile
beauty of a cameo" or "It's midsummer madness, Fia-
metta! You mustn't! I must! I want you! You want me?
But I— I'm just a poor little slavey, and you— why, all life's
ahead of you! Fame, the love of a good woman, children!
And your music, Raoul! Excuse me, miss, are you Fiametta
Desplains? I am Yankel Patchouli, a solicitor. Here is my
card and a report of my recent urinalysis. Raoul! Raoul!
Come quick! A million dollars! Now you can go to Paris
and study your counterpoint! Damn my music, Fiametta,
my happiness was in my own back yard all the time and
I was, how you say it, one blind fool." It is all very well
to condone Perelman on the ground that he wrote the
foregoing after extended servitude in Hollywood, but what
if such passages were to fall into the hands of children?
Particularly children who did not know the meaning of
words like "patchouli"?
Unquestionably, the two most dominant themes in the
ensuing pages, if any general pattern can be discerned, are
those relating to money and women. Again and again
Perelman's quenchless preoccupation with moola and
the female figure invades his discourses; a cursory inspec*
tion reveals thirty-seven direct allusions to the former and
twenty-four to the latter. Some of the articles ("Adorable,
Taxable You" and "Farewell, My Lovely Appetizer") ac-
tually deal with nothing else; and this lamentable under-
tone of avarice and lubricity probably reaches its zenith
in "You Should Live So, Walden Pond" with the phrase,
"Hardly am I back in the Taj Mahal, surrounded by Made-
leine Carroll and five hundred million billion trillion dol-
lars." Obvious infantilism of this sort can be forgiven a
gifted writer; in one so patently devoid of talent as Perel-
man, his continual absorption with the fleshpots indicates
the need for speedy therapy. Either he should set his
sights for Miss Carroll and her bankroll or betake himself
to that good five-cent psychiatrist he is forever prating
For it is evident to anyone with a grain of sense and the
price of this volume (on which Perelman, unfortunately,
received a stipulated royalty) that the man faces a disas-
Yesterday morning I awoke from a deep
dream of peace compounded of equal parts of allonal and
Vat 69 to find that autumn was indeed here. The last leaf
had fluttered off the sycamore and the last domestic of
the summer solstice had packed her bindle and caught the
milk train out of Trenton. Peace to her ashes, which I
shall carry up henceforward from the cellar. Stay as sweet
as you are, honey, and don't drive through any open draw-
bridges is my Christmas wish for Leota Claflin. And lest
the National Labor Relations Board (just plain "Nat" to
its friends, of whom I am one of the staunchest) summon
me to the hustings for unfair employer tactics, I rise to
offer in evidence as pretty a nosegay of houseworkers as
ever fried a tenderloin steak. Needless to say, the charac-
ters and events depicted herein are purely imaginary, and
I am a man who looks like Ronald Colman and dances
like Fred Astaire.
The first reckless crocus of March was nosing up
through the lawn as I sprang from the driver's seat, spread
my cloak across a muddy spot, and obsequiously handed
down Philomene Labruyere— -colored, no laundry. Philo-
mene was a dainty thing, built somewhat on the order of
Lois De Fee, the lady bouncer. She had the rippling mus-
cles of a panther, the stolidity of a water buffalo, and the
lazy insolence of a shoe salesman. She stood seventy-five
inches in her stocking feet, which I will take my Bible
oath were prehensile. As she bent down to lift her suitcase,
she picked up the car by mistake and had it halfway down
the slope before I pointed out her mistake. She acknowl-
edged the reproof with a glance of such sheer hatred that
I knew at once I should have kept my lip buttoned. After
all, perhaps the woman wanted my automobile in her
bedroom for some purpose of her own.
"You— you can take it up with you if you want/' I
stammered, thinking to retrieve her esteem. "I've got
plenty of others— I mean I've got plenty of nothing— I
mean— " With my ears glowing, I attempted to conceal
my gaffe by humming a few bars of "Summertime/' but
her cold, appraising glance told me that Philom&ne had
"Whuh kine place is this?" she rumbled suspiciously.
"You mus' be crazy."
"But aren't we all?" I reminded her with a charming
smile. "C'est la maladie du temps— the sickness of the
times— don't you think? Fin-de-siecle and lost generation,
in a way. 'I should have been a pair of ragged claws scut-
tling across the floors of silent seas/ How well Eliot puts
it! Dye ever see any of the old transition crowd?" I
skipped along doing my best to lighten her mood, car-
ried her several hatboxes, and even proffered a reefer, but
there was no doubt in either of our minds who had the
That Philomene was a manic-depressive in the down-
hill phase was, of course, instantly apparent to a boy of
five. Several boys of five, who happened to be standing
around and were by way of being students of psycho-
pathology, stated their belief to me in just those words:
"Manic-depressive, downhill phase." At the close of busi«
ness every evening, Philomene retired to her room armed
with a sixteen-inch steak knife, doubtless to ward off an
attack by her Poltergeist. She then spent the best part of
an hour barricading her door with dressers, armoires, and
other heavy furniture, preparatory to sleeping with the
lights on. I say "sleeping" utterly without conviction; she
undoubtedly molded lead statues of her employer and
crooned to them over a slow fire.
But if her behavior was erratic, there was no lack of
consistency in Philom&ne's cuisine. Meat loaf and cold
fried chicken succeeded each other with the deadly pre-
cision of tracer bullets. At last, when blood and sinew
could stand no more and I was about to dissolve the
union, I suddenly discovered that this female Paul Bun-
yan had grown to womanhood under the bright skies of
Martinique, and I knew a moment of elation. I let it be
bruited through the servants' hall that I would look tol-
erantly on fried plantain, yams, and succulent rice dishes.
That afternoon the kitchen was a hive of activity. The air
was heavy with saffron, pimento, and allspice. I heard
snatches of West Indian Calypsos, caught a glimpse of
Philomene's head swathed in a gay bandanna. With the
care befitting a special occasion, I dressed negligently but
with unimpeachable taste in whites and cummerbund,
mixed myself several excellent stengahs, and sauntered
in to dinner for all the world like an up-country tea
planter. A few moments later, Philomene entered with
what might be called a smoking salver except for the cir-
cumstance that it was stone cold. On it lay the wing and
undercarriage of an even colder chicken, flanked by two
segments of meat loaf.
After five minutes of reflection, during which, I am
told, my features closely resembled a Japanese print, I
arose and, throwing out my tiny chest, marched into the
kitchen. The maledictions withered on my lips. Seated
at the table, my black hibiscus blossom was tucking in a
meal consisting of potage Parmentier avec cioutons y a
crisp gigot 9 salade fatiguee, and pot de creme au chocolate
"You— thing/' I said at length, and five minutes later
Philomene was on her way back to St. Pierre.
Her successor was a chapfallen Australian cadaver who
had reached his zenith as steward of a country club in
Pompton Lakes and treated me and mine with the tired
fatalism of a social worker. For some reason I never could
fathom, unless it was that I occasionally wore a Tatter-
sall vest, William persisted in regarding me as a racing
man. He could recall every entry in the Cesarewitch
Sweepstakes since 1899 and did, but faced with a pot
roast, he assumed a wooden incomprehension that would
have done credit to a Digger Indian. It was William's
opinion, freely given, that cooked food was dead food
and that I would triple my energy by living on fronds.
He knew a hundred different ways of preparing bran,
each more ghastly than the last. For an avowed vegetarian
/or "raw-fooder," as he described himself), he spent his
leisure in a puzzling enough fashion, polishing and whet-
ting the superb collection of Swedish steel carving knives
which was the one relic of his former magnificence.
William hadn't been with us long before I began to
feel uneasy, but I attributed my disquiet to Edmund
Pearson's admirable study of the Lizzie Borden case, which
I was reading at the time. And then, on the sultry morn-
ing of August 4th— by an uncanny coincidence the forty-
seventh anniversary of the Fall River holocaust— -I came
down to find awaiting me an exact duplicate of the break-
fast which had been served on Second Street that fateful
morning: warmed-over mutton soup, cold mutton, and.
bananas. I am not unduly superstitious, but there is nc
sense flying in the face of history. I left the check and the
usual reference on William's bureau and hid in the woods
The time had now come, I felt, for plain speaking. I
inserted two and a half inches in the metropolitan press
setting forth my special needs. I wanted something stout
and motherly, with floury hands and a hot apple pie cool-
ing on the window sill. What I got was an ancient Latvian
beldam named Ilyeana, who welcomed the idea of living
in the country with such alacrity I was convinced she must
be a fugitive from justice. Her cooking did nothing to
contradict the impression; three nights hand running she
served mulligan and coffee made in a tin and seemed
strangely familiar with the argot of hobo jungles. How
near I was to the bull's-eye was revealed a week later with
the arrival of a letter sent to Ilyeana by relatives in Can-
ada. She ripped open the envelope and a newspaper
clipping fell to the floor. I picked it up and was about
to hand it to her when I saw the sinister heading,
"Missing Man Believed Found." The Mounties, idly
dragging a lake near Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, had re-
covered some parcels which, laid end to end, turned out
to be the body of a man. "The victim's sister, whom the
authorities would like to question/' the account added,
"is at present thought to be in Latvia/' Far from being in
Latvia, the victim's sister was standing at that exact mo-
ment peering over my shoulder in good old Tinicum
Township, Pennsylvania. I cleared my throat and edged
a little closer to the fire tongs.
"What do you make of this, Ilyeana?" I asked. I knew
damn well what she made of it, but you have to begin
"Ah, this happen every time I get good job," she said.
"Always pickin' on me. Well, I guess I go up there and
take a look at him. I know that head of hair anywhere."
At the station, Ilyeana bought a ticket to Savannah,
which would seem a rather circuitous route to the Do-
minion, but nobody was surpised, least of all the passenger
agent. What with people winging through to Martinique,
Australia, and similar exotic climes, that little New Jer-
sey depot could give cards and spades to Shepheard's
Hotel in Cairo. And speaking of spades, could anybody
put me on to one named Uncle Pompey, with a frizzy
white poll and a deft hand for grits?
SOMEWHERE A ROSCOE . • .
Tills is the story of a mind that found itself.
About two years ago I was moody, discontented, restless,
almost a character in a Russian novel. I used to lie on my
bed for days drinking tea out of a glass (I was one of the
first in this country to drink tea out of a glass; at that
time fashionable people drank from their cupped hands).
Underneath, I was still a lively, fun-loving American boy
who liked nothing better than to fish with a bent pin. In
short, I had become a remarkable combination of Ras-
kolnikov and Mark Tidd.
One day I realized how introspective I had grown and
decided to talk to myself like a Dutch uncle. "Luik here,
Mynheer," I began (I won't give you the accent, but
honestly it was a riot), "you've overtrained. You're stale.
Open up a few new vistas— go out and get some fresh
air!" Well, I bustled about, threw some things into a
bag— orange peels, apple cores and the like— and went out
for a walk. A few minutes later I picked up from a part
bench a tattered pulp magazine called Spicy Detective,
. . . Talk about your turning points!
I hope nobody minds my making love in public, but if
Culture Publications, Inc., of 900 Market Street, Wil-
mington, Delaware, will have me, I'd like to marry them.
Yes, I know— call it a school-boy crush, puppy love, the
senseless infatuation of a callow youth for a middle-aged,
worldly-wise publishing house; I still don't care. I love
them because they are the publishers of not only Spicy
Detective but also Spicy Western, Spicy Mystery and
Spicy Adventure. And I love them most because their
prose is so soft and warm.
"Arms and the man I sing/' sang Vergil some twenty
centuries ago, preparing to celebrate the wanderings of
Aeneas. If ever a motto was tailormade for the masthead
of Culture Publications, Inc., it is "Arms and the Wo-
man/' for in Spicy Detective they have achieved the
sauciest blend of libido and murder this side of Gilles de
Rais. They have juxtaposed the steely automatic and the
frilly pantie and found that it pays off. Above all, they
have given the world Dan Turner, the apotheosis of all
private detectives. Out of Ma Barker by Dashiell Ham-
mett's Sam Spade, let him characterize himself in the
opening paragraph of "Corpse in the Closet/' from the
July, 1937, issue:
I opened my bedroom closet. A half -dressed feminine corpse
sagged into my arms. . . . It's a damned screwy feeling to
reach for pajamas and find a cadaver instead.
Mr. Turner, you will perceive, is a man of sentiment,
and it occasionally gets him into a tight corner. For exam-
ple, in "Killer's Harvest" (July, 1938) he is retained to
escort a young matron home from the Cocoanut Grove
in Los Angeles:
Zarah Trenwick was a wow in a gown of silver lame that
stuck to her lush curves like a coating of varnish. Her makeup
was perfect; her strapless dress displayed plenty of evidence
that she still owned a cargo of lure. Her bare shoulders were
snowy, dimpled. The upper slopes of her breast were squeezed
upward and partly overflowed the tight bodice, like whipped
To put it mildly, Dan cannot resist the appeal of a
pretty foot, and disposing of Zarah's drunken husband ("I
clipped him on the button. His hip pockets bounced on
the floor"), he takes this charlotte russe to her apartment
Alone with her, the policeman in him succumbs to the
man, and "she fed me a kiss that throbbed all the way
down my fallen arches," when suddenly:
From the doorway a roscoe said "Kachow!" and a slug
creased the side of my noggin. Neon lights exploded inside my
think-tank . . . She was as dead as a stuffed mongoose . . .
I wasn't badly hurt. But I don't like to be shot at. I don't like
dames to be rubbed out when Fm flinging woo at them.
With an irritable shrug, Dan phones the homicide de-
tail and reports Zarah's passing in this tender obituary:
"Zarah Trenwick just got blasted to hellangone in her
tepee at the Gayboy. Drag your underwear over here—
and bring a meat-wagon." Then he goes in search of the
I drove over to Argyle; parked in front of Fane Trenwick's
modest stash ... I thumbed the bell. The door opened. A
Chink house-boy gave me the slant-eyed focus. "Missa Tien-
wick, him sleep. You go way, come tomollow. Too late fo'
vlisito\" I said "Nerts to you, Confucius," and gave him a
shove on the beezer.
Zarah's husband, wrenched out of bed without the silly
formality of a search warrant, establishes an alibi depend-
ing upon one Nadine Wendell. In a trice Dan crosses the
city and makes his gentle way into the lady's boudoir, only
to discover again what a frail vessel he is au fond:
The fragrant scent of her red hair tickled my smeller; the
warmth of her slim young form set fire to my arterial system.
After all, Fm as human as the next gazabo.
The next gazabo must be all too human, because Dan
betrays first Nadine and then her secret; namely, that she
pistolled Zarah Trenwick for reasons too numerous to
mention. If you feel you must know them, they appear on
page no, cheek by jowl with some fascinating advertise-
ments for loaded dice and wealthy sweethearts, either of
which will be sent you in plain wrapper if you'll forward a
dollar to the Majestic Novelty Company of Janesville,
The deeper one goes into the Dan Turner saga, the
more one is struck by the similarity between the case con-
fronting Dan in the current issue and those in the past.
The murders follow an exact, rigid pattern almost like the
ritual of a bullfight or a classic Chinese play. Take "Veiled
Lady/' in the October, 1937, number of Spicy Detective-
Dan is flinging some woo at a Mrs. Brantham in her apart-
ment at the exclusive Gayboy Arms, which apparently ex-
cludes everybody but assassins:
From behind me a roscoe belched "Chow-chow!" A pair of
slugs buzzed past my left ear, almost nicked my cranium. Mrs.
Brantham sagged back against the pillow of the lounge . . •
She was as dead as an iced catfish.
Or this vignette from "Falling Star/' out of the Septem-
ber, 1936, issue.
The roscoe said "Chow!" and spat a streak of flame past my
shoulder . . . The Filipino cutie was lying where Fd last seen
her. She was as dead as a smoked herring.
And again, from "Dark Star of Death," January, 1938:
From a bedroom a roscoe said: "Whr-r-rang!" and a lead pill
split the ozone past my noggin . . . Kane Fewster was on the
floor. There was a bullet hole through his think-tank. He was
as dead as a fried oyster.
And still again, from "Brunette Bump-off," May, 1938:
And then, from an open window beyond the bed, a roscoe
coughed "Ka-chow!" ... I said, "What the hell—!" and hit
the floor with my smeller ... A brunette jane was lying
there, half out of the mussed covers. . . . She was as dead as
The next phase in each of these dramas follows with all
the cold beauty and inevitability of a legal brief. The ros-
coe has hardly spoken, coughed, or belched before Dan is
off through the canebrake, his nostrils filled with the heavy
scent of Nuit de Noel. Somewhere, in some dimly lit bou-
doir, waits a voluptuous parcel of womanhood who knows
all about the horrid deed. Even if she doesn't, Dan makes
a routine check anyway. The premises are invariably
guarded by an Oriental whom Dan is obliged to expunge.
Compare the scene at Fane Trenwick's modest stash with
this one from "Find That Corpse" (November, 1937) :
A sleepy Chink maid in pajamas answered my ring. She was
a cute little slant-eyed number. I said "Is Mr. Polznak home?"
She shook her head. "Him up on location in Flesno. Been
gone two week." I said "Thanks. I'll have a gander for my-
self." I pushed past her. She started to yip . . . "Shut up!" I
growled. She kept on trying to make a noise. So I popped her
on the button. She dropped.
It is a fairly safe bet that Mr. Polznak has forgotten the
adage that a watched pot never boils and has left behind a
dewy-eyed coryphee clad in the minimum of chiffon de-
manded by the postal authorities. The poet in Dan in-
eluctably vanquishes the flatfoot ("Dark Star of Death") :
**I glued my glims on her blond loveliness; couldn't help
myself. The covers had skidded down from her gorgeous,
dimpled shoulders; I could see plenty of delishful, she-
male epidermis." The trumpets blare again; some expert
capework by our torero, and "Brunette Bump-off"):
'Then she fed me a kiss that sent a charge of steam past
my gozzle . . . Well, I'm as human as the next gink."
From then on, the author's typewriter keys infallibly
fuse in a lump of hot metal and it's all over but the shout-
ing of the culprit and "Look, Men: One Hundred Breezy
Fotos!" Back in his stash, his roscoe safely within reach,
Dan Turner lays his weary noggin on a pillow, resting up
for the November issue. And unless you're going to need
me for something this afternoon, I intend to do the same,
WAITING FOR SANTtf
A CHRISTMAS PLAYLET
(With a Bow to Mr. Clifford Odets)
i Scene: The sweatshop of S. Claus, a manufac*
tuiei of children's toys, on North Pole Street. Time: The
night before Christmas.
At rise, seven gnomes, Rankin, Panken, RivJcin, Riskin,
Ruskin, B riskin, and Praskin, are discovered working furi-
ously to fill orders piling up at stage right. The whir of
lathes, the hum of motors, and the hiss of drying lacquer
are so deafening that at times the dialogue cannot he
heard, which is very vexing if you vex easily. (Note: The
parts of Rankin, Panken, Rivkin, Riskin, Ruskin, Briskin,
and Praskin are interchangeable, and may be secured di-
rectly from your dealer or the factory. )
Riskin (filing a Meccano girder, bitterly)— A parasite*
a leech, a bloodsucker— altogether a five-star nogoodnick!
Starvation wages we get so he can ride around in a red
team with reindeers!
Ruskin (jeering) —Hey, Karl Marx, whyn'tcha hire a
Riskin (sneering)— Scab! Stool pigeon! Company spy!
(They tangle and rain blows on each other. While wait-
ing for these to dry, each returns to his respective task.)
Briskin (sadly, to Panken)— All day long I'm painting
"Snow Queen" on these Flexible Flyers and my little
Irving lays in a cold tenement with the gout.
Panken— You said before it was the mumps.
Briskin (with a fatalistic shrug)— The mumps— the
gout— go argue with City Hall.
Panken (kindly, passing him a bowl)— Here, take a
Briskin (chewing) —It ain't bad, for wax fruit.
Panken (with pride)— I painted it myself.
Briskin (rejecting the fruit)— Ptoo! Slave psychology!
Rivkin (suddenly, half to himself, half to the Party) —
I got a belly full of stars, baby. You make me feel like I
swallowed a Roman candle.
Praskin (curiously)— What's wrong with the kid?
Riskin— What's wrong with all of us? The system! Two
years he and Claus's daughter's been making googoo eyes
behind the old man's back.
Praskin— So what?
Riskin (scornfully)— So what? Economic determinism!
What do you think the kid's name is— J. Pierpont Rivkin?
He ain't even got for a bottle Dr. Brown's Celery Tonic.
I tell you, it's like gall in my mouth two young people
shouldn't have a room where they could make great music.
Rankin (warningly)— Shhh! Here she comes now!
(Stella Claus enters, carrying a portable phonograph. She
and Rivkin embrace, place a record on the turntable, and
begin a very slow waltz, unmindful that the phonograph
is playing "Cohen on the Telephone. 97 )
Stella (dreamily)— Love me, sugar?
Rivkin— I can't sleep, I can't eat, that's how I love you.
You're a double malted with two scoops of whipped
cream; you're the moon rising over Mosholu Parkway;
you're a two weeks' vacation at Camp Nitgedaiget! f d
pull down the Chrysler Building to make a bobbie pin
for your hair!
Stella— Fve got a stomach full of anguish. Oh, Rivvy,
what'll we do?"
Panken (sympathetically)— Here, try a piece fruit.
Rivkin (fiercely)— Wax fruit— that's been my whole
life! Imitations! Substitutes! Well, Fm through! Stella,
tonight Fm telling your old man. He can't play mum-
blety-peg with two human beings! (The tinkle of sleigh
bells is heard offstage, followed hy a voice shouting,
"Whoa, Dasher! Whoa, Dancer/" A moment later S.
Claus enters in a gust oi mock snow. He is a pompous
bourgeois of sixty-five who affects a white beard and a
false air of benevolence. But tonight the ruddy color is
missing from his cheeks, his step falters, and he moves
heavily. The gnomes hastily replace the marzipan they
have been filching.)
Stella (anxiously)— Papa! What did the specialist say
Claus (brokenly)— The biggest professor in the coun-
try .. . the best cardiac man that money could buy. . . .
I tell you I was like a wild man.
Stella— Pull yourself together, Sam!
Claus— It's no use. Adhesions, diabetes, sleeping sich
ness, decalcomania— oh, my God! I got to cut out climb
ing in chimneys, he says— me, Sanford Claus, the oiggest
toy concern in the world!
Stella (soothingly)— After all, it's only one man'f
Claus— No, no, he coofced my goose. Fm like a broken
uke after a Yosian picnic. Rivkin!
Rivkin— Yes, Sam.
Claus— My boy, I had my eye on you for a long time.
You and Stella thought you were too foxy for an old man,
didn't you? Well, let bygones be bygones. Stella, do you
love this gnome?
Stella (simply)— He's the whole stage show at the
Music Hall, Papa; he's Toscanini conducting Beethoven's
Claus (curtly)— Enough already. Take him. From now
on he's a partner in the firm. (As all exclaim, Claus holds
up his hand for silence.) And tonight he can take my
route and make the deliveries. It's the least I could do for
my own flesh and blood. (As the happy couple kiss, Claus
wipes away a suspicious moisture and turns to the other
gnomes.) Boys, do you know what day tomorrow is?
Gnomes (crowding around expectantly)— Christmas!
Claus— Correct. When you look in your envelopes to-
night, you'll find a little present from me— a forty-percent
pay cut. And the first one who opens his trap— gets this.
(As he holds up a tear-gas bomb and beams at them, the
gnomes utter cries ot joy, join hands, and dance around
him shouting exultantly. All except Riskin and Briskin,
that is, who exchange a quick glance and go underground. )
THE IDOL'S EYE
I had been week-ending with Gabriel Snub-
bers at his villa, "The Acacias/' on the edge of the Downs.
Gabriel isn't seen about as much as he used to be; one
hears that an eccentric aunt left him a tidy little sum and
the lazy beggar refuses to leave his native haunts. Four of
us had cycled down from London together: Gossip Ga~
brilowitsch, the Polish pianist; Downey Couch, the Irish
tenor; Frank Falcovsky, the Jewish prowler, and myself,
Clay Modelling. Snubbers, his face beaming, met us at the
keeper's lodge. His eyes were set in deep rolls of fat for our
arrival, and I couldn't help thinking how well they looked.
I wondered whether it was because his daring farce, Mrs.
Stebbins 9 Step-Ins, had been doing so well at the Hay
"Deuced decent of you chaps to make this filthy trip,"
he told us, leading us up the great avenue of two stately
alms toward the house. "Rum place, this." A surprise
awaited us when we reached the house, for the entire left
wing had just burned down. Snubbers, poor fellow, stared
at it a bit ruefully, I thought.
"Just as well. It was only a plague-spot," sympathized
Falcovsky. Snubbers was thoughtful.
"D'ye know, you chaps," he said suddenly, "I could
swear an aunt of mine was staying in that wing." Falcovsky
stirred the ashes with his stick and uncovered a pair of
knitting needles and a half-charred corset.
"No, it must have been the other wing," dismissed
Snubbers. "How about a spot of whisky and soda?" We
entered and Littlejohn, Snubbers' man, brought in a spot
of whisky on a piece of paper which we all examined with
interest. A splendid fire was already roaring in the middle
of the floor to drive out the warmth.
"Soda?" offered Snubbers. I took it to please him, for
'Gabriel's cellar was reputedly excellent. A second later I
lavished that I had drunk the cellar instead. Baking soda
is hardly the thing after a three-hour bicycle trip.
"You drank that like a little soldier/' he complimented,
his little button eyes fastened on me. I was about to re-
mark that I had never drunk a little soldier, when I noticed
Littlejohn hovering in the doorway.
"Yes, that will be all," Snubbers waved, "and, oh, by
the way, send up to London tomorrow for a new wing,
will you?" Littlejohn bowed and left, silently, sleekly
"Queer cove, Littlejohn," commented Snubbers. "Shall
I tell you a story?" He did, and it was one of the dullest
I have ever heard. At the end of it Falcovsky grunted.
Snubbers surveyed him suspiciously.
"Why, what's up, old man?" he queried.
"What's up? Nothing's up," snarled Falcovsky. "Can't
a man grunt in front of an open fire if he wants to?"
"But . . ." began Snubbers.
"But nothing," Falcovsky grated. "You haven't lived
till you've grunted in front of an open fire. Just for that—
grunt, grunt, grunt," and he grunted several times out of
sheer spite. The baking soda was beginning to tell on
"Remarkable thing happened the other day/' he began-
"I was pottering about in the garden . . ."
"Why must one always potter around in a garden?''
demanded Couch. "Can't you potter around in an arm-
chair just as well?"
"I did once/' confessed Snubbers moodily, revealing a
whitish scar on his chin. "Gad, sir, what a wildcat she
was!" He chewed his wad of carbon paper reminiscently.
"Oh, well, never mind. But as I was saying— I was going
through some of my great-grandfather's things the other
day . . ."
"What things?" demanded Falcovsky.
"His bones, if you must know," Snubbers said coldly.
"You know, Great-grandfather died under strange cir^
cumstances. He opened a vein in his bath."
"I never knew baths had veins," protested GabriL
"I never knew his great-grandfather had a ba— " began
Falcovsky derisively. With a shout Snubbers threw him-
self on Falcovsky. It was the signal for Pandemonium, the
upstairs girl, to enter and throw herself with a shout on
Couch. The outcome of the necking bee was as follows:
Canadians 12, Visitors 9. Krebs and Vronsky played footie,
subbing for Gerber and Weinwald, who were disabled by
We were silent after Snubbers had spoken; men who
have wandered in far places have an innate delicacy about
their great-grandfathers' bones. Snubbers' face was a mask,
his voice a harsh whip of pain in the stillness when he
"I fancy none of you knew my great-grandfather/' he
said slowly. "Before your time, I daresay. A rare giant of
a man with quizzical eyes and a great shock of wiry red
hair, he had come through the Peninsular Wars without
a scratch. Women loved this impetual Irish adventurer
who would rather fight than eat and vice versa. The wars
over, he turned toward cookery, planning to devote his
failing years to the perfection of the welsh rarebit, a dish
he loved. One night he was chafing at The Bit, a tavern in
Portsmouth, when he overheard a chance remark from a
brawny gunner's mate in his cups. In Calcutta the man
had heard native tales of a mysterious idol, whose single
eye was a flawless ruby.
" Topscuttle my bamberger, it's the size of a bloomin'
pigeon's egg!' spat the salt, shifting his quid to his other
cheek. 'A bloomin' rajah's ransom and ye may lay to that,
"The following morning the Maid of Hull, a frigate
of the line mounting thirty-six guns, out of Bath and into
bed in a twinkling, dropped downstream on the tide,
bound out for Bombay, object matrimony. On her as pas-
senger went my great-grandfather, an extra pair of nan-
keen pants and a dirk his only baggage. Fifty-three days
later in Poona, he was heading for the interior of one of
the Northern states. Living almost entirely on cameo
brooches and the few ptarmigan which fell to the ptrigger
of his pfowlingpiece, he at last sighted the towers of Ish-
peming, the Holy City of the Surds and Cosines, fanatic
Mohammedan warrior sects. He disguised himself as a
beggar and entered the gates.
'Tor weeks my great-grandfather awaited his chance to
enter the temple of the idol. They were changing the
guard one evening when he saw it. One of the native
janissaries dropped his knife. My great-grandfather leaped
forward with cringing servility and returned it to him, in
the small of his back. Donning the soldier's turban, he
quickly slipped into his place. Midnight found him within
ten feet of his prize. Now came the final test. He furtively
drew from the folds of his robes a plate of curry, a dish
much prized by Indians, and set it in a far corner. The
guards rushed upon it with bulging squeals of delight. A
twist of his wrist and the gem was his. With an elaborately
stifled yawn, my great-grandfather left under pretense of
going out for a glass of water. The soldiers winked slyly
but when he did not return after two hours, their sus-
picions were aroused. They hastily made a canvass of the
places where water was served and their worst fears were
realized. The ruby in his burnoose, Great-grandfather was
escaping by fast elephant over the Khyber Pass. Dockside
loungers in Yarmouth forty days later stared curiously at
a mammoth of a man with flaming red hair striding toward
the Bull and Bloater Tavern. Under his belt, did they but
only know it, lay the Ruby Eye.
"Ten years to that night had passed, and my great-
grandfather, in seclusion under this very roof, had almost
forgotten his daring escapade. Smoking by the fireplace,
he listened to the roar of the wind and reviewed his
campaigns. Suddenly he leaped to his feet— a dark face
had vanished from the window. Too late my great-grand-
father snatched up powder and ball and sent a charge
hurtling into the night. The note pinned to the window
drained the blood from his face.
"It was the first of a series. Overnight his hair turned
from rose-red to snow-white. And finally, when it seemed
as though madness were to rob them of their revenge, they
Snubbers stopped, his eyes those of a man who had
looked beyond life and had seen things best left hidden
from mortal orbs. Falcovsky's hand was trembling as he
pressed a pinch of snuff against his gums.
"You— you mean?" he quavelled.
"Yes." Snubbers 7 voice had sunk to a whisper. "He
fought with the strength of nine devils, but the movers
took away his piano. You see," he added very gently,
"Great-grandfather had missed the last four instalments."
Gabrilowitsch sighed deeply and arose, his eyes fixed in-
tently on Snubbers.
"And— and the ruby?" he asked softly, his delicate fin-
gers closing around the fire-tongs.
"Oh, that," shrugged Snubbers, "I just threw that in to
make it interesting."
We bashed in his conk and left him to the vultures.
AND THE BEE
It is always something of a shock to approach a
newsstand which handles trade publications and find the
Corset and Underwear Review displayed next to the
American Bee Journal. However, newsstands make strange
bedfellows, as anyone who has ever slept with a news-
stand can testify, and if you think about it at all (instead of
sitting there in a torpor with your mouth half-open) you'd
see this proximity is not only alphabetical. Both the Corset
and Underwear Review and the American Bee Journal arc
concerned with honeys; although I am beast enough to
prefer a photograph of a succulent nymph in satin Lastex
Girdleiere with Thrill Plus Bra to the most dramatic
snapshot of an apiary, each has its place in my scheme.
The Corset and Underwear Review, which originates
at the Haire Publishing Company, 1170 Broadway, New
York City, is a magazine for jobbers. Whatever else a
corset jobber is, he is certainly nobody's fool. The first
seventy pages of the magazine comprise an album of
superbly formed models posed in various attitudes of
sweet surrender and sheathed in cunning artifices of
whalebone, steel, and webbing. Some indication of what
Milady uses to give herself a piquant front elevation may
be had from the following list of goodies displayed at the
Hotel McAlpin Corset Show, reported by the March,
1935, Corset and Underwear Review: "Flashes and
Filmys, Speedies and Flexees, Sensations and Thrills,
Snugfits and Even-Puls, Rite-Flex and Free-Flex, Smooth*
ies and Silk-Skins, Imps and Teens, La Triques and Waiki-
kis, Sis and Modern Miss, Sta-Downs and Props, Over-
Tures and Reflections, Lilys and Irenes, Willo-th-wisps
and Willoways, Miss Smartie and MisSimplicity, Princess
Youth and Princess Chic, Miss Today and Soiree, Kor-
dettes and Francettes, Paristyles and Rengo Belts, Vas-
sarettes and Foundettes, Fans and Fade Aways, Beau
Sveltes and Beau Formas, Madame Adrienne and Miss
Typist, Stout-eze and Laceze, Symphony and Rhapsody,
Naturade and Her Secret, Rollees and Twin Tops,
Charma and V-Ette, La Camille and La Tec/'
My neck, ordinarily an alabaster column, began to
turn a dull red as I forged through the pages of the Corset
and Underwear Review into the section called "Buyer
News/' Who but Sir John Suckling could have achieved
the leering sensuality of a poem by Mrs. Adelle Mahone,
San Francisco representative of the Hollywood-Maxwell
Company, whom the magazine dubs "The Brassiere Bard
of the Bay District"?
Out-of-town buyers!— during your stay
At the McAlpin, see our new display.
There are bras for the young, support for the old,
Up here for the shy, down to there for the bold.
We'll have lace and nets and fabrics such as
Sturdy broadcloths and satins luscious.
We'll gladly help your profits transform
If you'll come up to our room and watch us perform.
Our new numbers are right from the Coast:
Snappy and smart, wait!— we must not boast—
We'll just urge you to come and solicit your smiles,
So drop in and order your Hollywood styles.
One leaves the lacy chinoiseries of the Corset and Un<
derweai Review with reluctance and turns to the bucolic
American Bee Journal, published at Hamilton, Illinois, by
C. P. Dadant. Here Sex is whittled down to a mere nub-
bin; everything is as clean as a whistle and as dull as a
hoe. The bee is the petit bourgeois of the insect world, and
his keeper is a self-sufficient stooge who needs and will get
no introduction to you. The pages of the American Bee
Journal are studded with cocky little essays like "Need of
Better Methods of Controlling American Foulbrood"
and "The Swarming Season in Manitoba." It is only in
"The Editor's Answers, a query column conducted by Mr.
Dadant, that Mr. Average Beekeeper removes his mask
and permits us to peep at the warm, vibrant human be-
neath. The plight of the reader who signs himself "Illi-
nois" (Fve seen that name somewhere) is typical:
I would like to know the easiest way to get a swarm of bees
which are lodged in between the walls of a house. The walls
are of brick and they are in the dead-air space. They have been
there for about three years. I would like to know method to
use to get the bees, not concerned about the honey.
The editor dismisses the question with some claptrap
about a "bee smoker" which is too ridiculous to repeat.
The best bet I see for "Illinois" is to play upon the weak-
ness of all bees. Take a small boy smeared with honey
and lower him between the walls. The bees will fasten
themselves to him by the hundreds and can be scraped
off when he is pulled up, after which the boy can be
thrown away. If no small boy smeared with honey can
be found, it may be necessary to take an ordinary small
boy and smear him, which should be a pleasure.
From the Blue Grass comes an even more perplexed
I have been ordering a few queens every year and they are
always sent as first-class mail and are thrown off the fast trains
that pass here at a speed of 60 miles an hour. Do you think it
does the queens any harm by throwing them off these fast
trains? You know they get an awful jolt when they hit the
ground. Some of these queens are very slow about doing any-
thing after they are put in the hive.— Kentucky.
I have no desire to poach on George Washington
Cable's domain, but if that isn't the furthest North in
Southern gallantry known to man, I'll eat his collected
works in Macy's window at high noon. It will interest
every lover of chivalry to know that since the above letter
was published, queen bees in the Blue Grass have been
treated with new consideration by railroad officials. A
Turkey-red carpet similar to that used by the Twentieth
Century Limited is now unrolled as the train stops, and
each queen, blushing to the very roots of her antennae, is
escorted to her hive by a uniformed porter. The rousing
strains of the Cakewalk, the comical antics of the darkies,
the hiss of fried chicken sputtering in the pan, all com-
bine to make the scene unforgettable.
But the predicament of both 'Illinois" and "Ken-
tucky" pale into insignificance beside the problem pre-
sented by another reader:
I have been asked to "talk on bees" at a nearby church some
evening in the fall. Though I have kept bees for ten years, I
am "scared stiff" because not a man in the audience knows a
thing about bees and I am afraid of being too technical.
I plan to take along specimens of queen, drone and worker,
also a glass observatory hive with bees, smoker and tools, an
extra hive, and possibly some queen cell cups, etc.
Could you suggest any manipulating that might be done for
the "edification of the audience"? I've seen pictures of stunts
that have been worked, like making a beard of bees; and I've
heard of throwing the bees out in a ball only to have them
return to the hive without bothering anyone. But, I don't
know how these stunts are done, nor do I know of any that ]
could do with safety. ( I don't mind getting a sting or two my
self, but I don't want anyone in the audience to get stung, or 1
might lose my audience.)
I've only opened hives a few times at night, but never liked
the job as the bees seem to fly up into the light and sting very
readily. That makes me wonder whether any manipulating
can be done in a room at night.
How long before the affair would I need to have the bees in
the room to have them settle down to the hive?— New York.
The only thing wrong with "New York" is that he
just doesn't like bees. In one of those unbuttoned moods
everybody has, a little giddy with cocoa and crullers, he
allowed himself to be cajoled by the vestrymen, and now,
face to face with his ordeal, he is sick with loathing for
bees and vestrymen alike. There is one solution, however,
and that is for "New York" to wrap himself tightly in
muslin the night of the lecture and stay in bed with his
hat on. If the vestrymen come for him, let him throw
the bees out in a ball. To hell with whether they return
or not, and that goes for the vestrymen, too. It certainly
goes for me. If I ever see the postman trudging toward
my house with a copy of the American Bee Journal, Fm
going to lodge myself in the dead-air space between the
walls and no amount of small boys smeared with honey
will ever get me out. And you be careful, American Bee
Journal— I bite.
IS THERE AN OSTEO-
IN THE HOUSE?
I^ooking back at it now, I see that every
afternoon at 4:30 for the past five months I had fallen
into an exact routine. First off, I'd tap the dottle from
my pipe by knocking it against the hob. I never smoke a
pipe, but I like to keep one with a little dottle in it, and
an inexpensive hob to tap it against; when you're in the
writing game, there are these little accessories you need.
Then Fd slip off my worn old green smoking jacket,
which I loathe, and start down Lexington Avenue for
home. Sometimes, finding myself in my shirtsleeves, I
would have to return to my atelier for my jacket and over-
coat, but as I say, when you're in the writing game, its
strictly head-in-the-clouds. Now, Lexington Avenue is
Lexington Avenue—when you've once seen Blooming-
dale's and the Wil-Low Cafeteria, you don't go nostalgic
all over as you might for the Avenue de l'Observatoire
and the Closerie des Lilas.
Anyway, Fd be head down and scudding along under
bare poles by the time I reached the block between
Fifty-eighth and Fifty-seventh Streets, and my glance into
those three shop windows would be purely automatic.
First, the highly varnished Schnecken in the bakery; then
the bones of a human foot shimmying slowly on a near-
mahogany pedestal in the shoestore; and finally the clock
set in the heel of a congress gaiter at the bootblack's. By
now my shabby old reflexes would tell me it was time to
buy an evening paper and bury my head in it. A little
whim of my wife's; she liked to dig it up, as a puppy does
a bone, while I was sipping my cocktail. Later on I taught
her to frisk with a ball of yarn, but to get back to what
happened Washington's Birthday.
I was hurrying homeward that holiday afternoon
pretty much in the groove, humming an aria from "Till
Tom Special" and wishing I could play the clarinet like a
man named Goodman. Just as it occurred to me that I
might drug this individual and torture his secret out of
him, I came abreast the window of the shoestore contain-
ing the bones of the human foot. My mouth suddenly de-
veloped that curious dry feeling when I saw that they were
vibrating, as usual, from north to south, every little meta-
tarsal working with the blandest contempt for all I hold
dear. I pressed my ear against the window and heard the
faint clicking of the motor housed in the box beneath. A
little scratch here and there on the shellac surface showed
where one of the more enterprising toes had tried to do
a solo but had quickly rejoined the band. Not only was
the entire arch rolling forward and backward in an oily
fashion, but it had evolved an obscene side sway at the
same time, a good deal like the danse a ventre. Maybe the
foot had belonged to an Ouled-Nail girl, but I felt I didn't
care to find out. I was aware immediately of an active de-
sire to rush home and lie down attended by my loved
ones. The only trouble was that when I started to leave
the place, I could feel my arches acting according to all
the proper orthopedic laws, and I swear people turned to
look at me as if they heard a clicking sound.
The full deviltry of the thing only became apparent
as I lay on my couch a bit later, a vinegar poultice on my
forehead, drinking a cup of steaming tea. That little bevy
of bones had been oscillating back and forth all through
Danzig, Pearl Harbor, and the North African campaign;
this very minute it was undulating turgidly, heedless c\
the fact the store had been closed two hours. Furthermore^
if its progress were not impeded by the two wires snaffled
to the toes (I'll give you that thought to thrash around
with some sleepless night), it might by now have en-
circled the world five times, with a stopover at the
Eucharistic Congress. For a moment the implications
were so shocking that I started up alarmed. But since my
loved ones had gone off to the movies and there was no-
body to impress, I turned over and slept like a top, with
no assistance except three and a half grains of barbital.
I could have reached my workshop the next morning
by walking up Third Avenue, taking a cab up Lexington,
or even crawling on my hands and knees past the shoe-
store to avoid that indecent window display, but my feet
won their unequal struggle with my brain and carried me
straight to the spot. Staring hypnotized at the macabre
shuffle (halfway between a rhumba and a soft-shoe step),
I realized that I was receiving a sign from above to take
the matter in hand. I spent the morning shopping lower
Third Avenue, and at noon, dressed as an attache of the
Department of Sanitation, began to lounge noncha-
lantly before the store. My broom was getting nearer and
nearer the window when the manager came out noise-
lessly. My ducks must have been too snowy, for he gave
one of his clerks a signal and a moment later a police-
man turned the corner. Fortunately, I had hidden my
civvies in the lobby of Proctor's Fifty-eighth Street Thea-
tre, and by the time the breathless policeman rushed in,
I had approached the wicket as cool as a cucumber, asked
for two cucumbers in the balcony, and signed my name
for Bank Nite. I flatter myself that I brought off the
affair rather well.
My second attempt, however, was as fruitless as the
first. I padded my stomach with a pillow, grayed my hair
at the temples, and entered the shop fiercely. Pointing to
the white piping on my vest, I represented myself as a
portly banker from Portland, Maine, and asked the man-
ager what he would take for the assets and good will, spot
cash. I was about to make him a firm offer when I found
myself being escorted out across the sidewalk, the man-
ager's foot serving as fulcrum.
And there, precisely, the matter rests. I have given
plenty of thought to the problem, and there is only one
solution. Are there three young men in this city, with
stout hearts and no dependents, who know what I mean?
We can clean out that window with two well-directed
grenades and get away over the rooftops. Given half a
break, we'll stop that grisly pas seul ten seconds after we
pull out the pins with our teeth. If we're caught, there's
always the cyanide in our belts. First meeting tonight at
nine in front of the Railroad Men's Y.M.C.A., and wear
a blue cornflower. Up the rebels/
THIS IS YOUR FATHER
A certain five-cent weekly published in
Philadelphia with a sworn circulation of 3,100,000 has
been given lately to a good deal of blushing and stammer-
ing and other signs of pretty confusion. Naturally I can-
not violate professional ethics by using real names, but,
spelled backward, the legend on the magazine runs "Tsop
Gnineve Yadrutas Eht" (a catchy enough title for any
reader's money), and it was founded Anno Domini 1728
by Beljamir Flankler. I fope I mek misef clirr.
The reason for all this dimpling and coloring up to the
roots of the hair is something the editors are modest
enough to term "Post Luck." On a number of occasions
their articles have been so timely as to seem almost clair
voyant. For example, a biography of Will Rogers had
barely concluded before his death was announced, and
similarly General Walter Krivitsky, geboien Schmelka
Ginzberg, forecast the Russo-German nuptials at a time
when the happy couple was still issuing denials to friends
and relatives. Whatever the mysterious pipeline it pos-
sesses to the infinite, the Post is constantly hiring the back
page of the New York Times to kiss its reflection in the
mirror and murmur, "Oo, you pitty sing." Throughout
which, of course, Collier's waspishly pats its back hair into
place and pretends to be looking the other way. But not
long ago, baker-fresh from the editorial oven and as if to
confound the skeptics, there came another startling proof
of the Post's telepathy. The place of honor in one of the
late autumn issues was given over to the opening install-
ment of Mary, This Is Your Mother, by Catherine Hayes
Brown, subheaded "The Unique Story of Helen Hayes,
as Told by Her Mother/' Now hold your hats. Less than
a month before that, Ladies and Gentlemen, a new play
by Charles MacArthur and Ben Hecht, opened in New
York, and in its leading role was Helen Hayes! Why, it's
enough to make a body's flesh creep.
The epistolary form is a mold sanctified in the editorial
rooms of the Post y where it is still remembered that
George Horace Lorimer, the Great White Father of the
Curtis publications, made a sizable bale of scratch out of
a little book called Letters of a Self -Made Merchant to His
Son. How many editions this early classic attained I do
not know, but the last time I wandered down Fourth
Avenue it still covered the second-hand bookstores like
a mulch. The tradition was subsequently carried forward
in the pages of the Post by William Hazlett Upson with
his letters of a tractor salesman, and now, as the torch
drops from his nerveless hand, Mrs. Brown picks it up
with Mary, This Is Your Mother. To me, it seems a rather
roundabout way of telling a child about its mother to
write it letters in a magazine which costs a nickel, when
you can deal out a few crisp facts right in the kitchen,
but I suppose it cuts down the back talk considerably.
As if this whole affair were not spooky enough already,
the very week Mrs. Brown began her revelations the pres-
ent writer's mother was on the verge of publishing some
letters dealing with his career which she had written to her
granddaughter. They reveal an astonishing parallel to
Mrs. Brown's letters and one that should prove interesting
to all lovers of good clean parallels. In reading them, it
is well to remember that many portions are in anapaestic
pentameter, as they were intended to be sung through
tissue paper stretched over a comb. No attempt has been
made to edit the letters other than removing the checks
they contained and cashing them.
I am going to write you a lot of letters about your
daddy's early life, and you just try and stop me. And that
goes for him too. And what's more, I'm going to get them
printed if I have to do it on a hand press. A Mr. Caxton
in the next block, who is very clever about such things,
has just invented movable type, and he has promised to
Enclosed is a little remembrance for your birthday,
The green stones are what we call emeralds, the white
sparkly ones diamonds. It costs about $585,000; it is not
much to look at, but will do you for rainy days.
I suppose you often wonder what your daddy was like
as a small boy. Well, he was just the most serious and
sober little man you can imagine. He had a long, droop-
ing Velvet Joe mustache, dipped snuff constantly, and
was head bookkeeper for Portfolio & Dugdale, the corn
factors. I don't think he ever really cared much about hi?
wife, thougl u he adored his children (he had three by
the time he was seven years old). He was always moping
around in a brown study, and when people spoke to him
he would listen with only half an ear. To do him justice,
that was all he had; the balance had been cropped for
thievery, so you can see he had something to mope about.
When he was about eight, he stopped talking alto-
gether, and I took him to Italy in an effort to revive his
spirits. He spoke only once. We were floating along the
Grand Canal in a gondola when a man attired as a Vene-
tian nobleman of the fourteenth century lost his footing
and toppled off the Bridge of Sighs. Your daddy smiled
wanly and remarked to nobody in particular, "It shouldn't
happen to a doge/'
I know how fond you are of driving around these brisk
autumn days, but you must see your pony doesn't catch
cold. Wouldn't we feel awful if Toby dropped dead of
pneumonia or something? I have had Jaeckel's stitch sev-
eral chinchilla coats into a warm rug for him, and make
sure he takes it off when he comes into the house.
By the time your daddy was eleven, he had made
enough money to retire and give up all his time to trans-
lating the works of Elbert Hubbard, the Sage of Aurora,
into Armenian, which he claimed would out-sell The Trail
of the Lonesome Pine. Unfortunately, like all successful
men, he had made a good many enemies in business, and
when the book came out they went around talking against
it, so it didn't do as well as some other books that year.
Then his enemies started pounding him on Wall Street
and brought on the panic of 1907, and your daddy lost
every penny. It is to his credit that he sat down without a
whimper and wrote Bleak House, The Gilded Age, and
a host of other successful novels which paid off every last
creditor. But he was thirteen when he finished, and a man
broken in health.
During your father's convalescence at Savin Rock, your
Uncle Hosea— you remember, he was a famous oarsman
at New Haven— came to visit us. As he alighted from the
train, the Yale crew was having its annual banquet there
and they recognized him. A cheer went up, and one of
their number swung Uncle Hosea over his shoulder and
bore him, kicking and screaming, through the streets, I
was naturally alarmed at Hosea's tardiness in arriving,
and expressed my anxiety. "We tried to keep it from
you/' remarked your daddy, "but poor Uncle Hosea was
carried off by a stroke/'
Under separate cover I am sending you an amusing
keepsake, a string of pearls that once belonged to Maria
Theresa of Austria. They are not in very good condition;
however, you can knot the four strands together and use
them for skipping rope.
I know that the question uppermost in your mind is
where your daddy spent the years between fifteen and
twenty-one. The explanation he gives to the world is that
although Moriarty lay at the bottom of the Reichenbach
Fall, there still remained at large the second most dan-
gerous man in London, Colonel Sebastian Moran. Until
such time as Moran would show his hand, your daddy
says he amused himself by traveling in Tibet, paying a
short but interesting visit to the Khalifa at Khartoum
(the results of which he communicated to the Foreign
Office), and doing some research into the coal-tar deriva-
tives at Montpellier. I may say that the whole story is a
pack of lies.
The real facts are these. On his fifteenth birthday I
took your daddy to a matinee at the Apollo Burlesk and
afterward to Schrafft's, where he had three mint smashes.
On our way home we stopped in front of one of those
shoddy auction rooms which line West Forty-second
Street. The auctioneer exhibited a hideous brown jardi-
niere and offered it to the first bidder. Next to us in the
crowd stood a lady holding by the hand her child, who
chanced to be a Siamese twin. Each of the twins wore on
his head one of those aviator helmets so popular with
children, "just a moment/' interposed your daddy
loudly, "the pot goes to this lady here!" "Why?" scowled
the auctioneer. "Because she's got a pair of aces back to
back," returned your daddy. The crowd immediately
rushed him and inflicted such damage that we were six
years restoring his face to a condition where dogs no
longer howled when they saw him.
Do you know where the Tebo Yacht Basin is, dear?
Well, the next time you are in New York and find your
hotel tiresome, tell the cab driver to take you over to
Brooklyn and go aboard the Corsair II. I bought it for you
from Mr. Morgan and it might be a lark to spend the night
on your very own little boat. When you leave, don't for
get to tell the captain to scuttle it, and oblige
BUFFALOS OF THE WOULD*
Anybody who happened to be a buffalo last
year (or was supporting during his taxable year one or
more buffalos closely dependent upon him) is going to
have a pretty hollow feeling in the pit of his stomach when
he gets a hinge at the July issue of The Field. In that ex-
cellent British sporting magazine, one "Old Harrow
Boy" attacks the custom of shouting and waving the
arms and hat to break up stampeding buffalos, and actu-
ally suggests whistling as a better means of dispersing un-
lawful assemblages of bison.
I hold no buff for the briefalo— I beg pardon, I should
have said "I hold no brief for the buffalo," but I am too
choked with rage about this matter to be very coherent.
I have never taken money from any pro-bison organiza-
tion and outside of a fatty deposit between the shoulder
blades I am no more buffalo than you are. But of all the
appalling, repellent, revolting and insupportable bits of
Schrecklichkeit ever fobbed off on a lethargic public under
the guise of sportsmanship, this is the absolute pay-off.
First, just who is this "Old Harrow Boy" anyway? I
looked him up in the London Street directory but the
only name like it was "O'Hara Roy, 15, Pig's Walk,
Wapping Old Stairs." "Pig's Walk" is good; "Pig's Talk,"
if you ask me. A man who hasn't even got the nerve to
sign his own name to a letter. Well, Mr. O'Hara, let's
cast an eye over your record and see who it is that goes
around lousing up a buffalo's good name. It might in-
terest you to know that I sent a friend of mine arounci
to Wapping Old Stairs to ask a few questions. I believe
he came to your service flat one afternoon and talked to
your "housekeeper/' But you thought he was some kind
of an idiot, eh? Well, he is. He's one of the most all-
around idiots I know, but there's one thing about him. He
doesn't spend his day teasing buffalos. He leaves that to
a certain pig in Wapping Old Stairs. No need to mention
„ Among other things I was interested to learn that our
precious Mr. O'Hara had been tried and convicted in
Rhodesia for acting as agent-provocateur in an uprising of
water buffalos in 1911. Shortly afterward three buffalos
reported to the British High Commissioner at Elandfon-
tein that they had been bored by Mr. O'Hara. The seri-
ousness of the charge forced the Commissioner's hand,
and an investigation was held. It revealed that O'Hara
had approached the buffalos in a kind of hysterical, ex-
cited fashion and told them some rambling inconsequen-
tial story without any point. The bisons alleged boredom
and petitioned for damages. I have been in correspond-
ence with Sir Herbert Antinous (then Sir Herbert An-
tinous) who acted as medical officer in the case. He has
been kind enough to forward me a transcript of the evi-
dence together with a locket containing hair from one of
the buffalos as proof. Here is Sir Herbert's version of the
"I examined the three buffalos about an hour after they
claimed Mr. O'Hara had bored them. They still bore the
marks of their recent ordeal. One of them had a coated
tongue and was feverish. The second seemed normal but
■slightly bemused. The third, however, had no tongue. I
guess the cat got it. (Laughter.)
"Question from Magistrate Nirdlfnger; Sir Herbert,
kindly confine yourself to the case. What is the difference
between a Florida orange and a letter?
"Sir Herbert: I don't know, Your Worship/'
"Niidlingei: Well, you'd be a hell of a man to send to
mail a letter. Stand down."
At this point there was a commotion in court caused
by O'Hara's pitching forward out of the dock in a dead
faint. The session was adjourned to allow Sir Herbert to
examine the prisoner. Here is his version of the case:
"I examined O'Hara about five minutes after he pitched
forward out of the dock in a dead faint. He still bore
the marks of his recent ordeal. He had a coated tongue
and was feverish."
The subsequent history of the case is completely with-
out interest. The accused's counsel entered a plea of prosit
•and O'Hara was lashed to the mizzen and given five dozen
with the cat, who seemed to be in good condition except
for a slightly coated tongue.
This, then, is the man who advocates whistling at stam-
peding buffalos. This unctuous traitor, writing on fools-
cap in onion juice, who signs fictitious names to his
slanders, dares undermine an institution as hallowed as
waving one's hat at buffalos. Ever since the days of Buffon,
the naturalist, it has gone without saying that the first
thing you do on seeing a buffalo is shout and wave your
arms and hat But no; that's not good enough for CHara.
He has to put on side. He has to make a holy show out of
himself in front of animals, let alone the Kaffir boys. And
maybe you don't think the Kaffir boys talk! Only last
night old man Kaffir and his youngest boy Morris came
into a poolroom in Spion Kop. Morris had two beers and
started talking. Well, sir, he talked pretty near two hours
before they could stop him. I just mention this to show
how the Kaffir boys talk once they get started.
.Well, O'Hara, Fve said my say. I'm a plain-spoken,
grizzled old seadog, none of your French airs for old
Peleg Starbuck. Why, bless your heart, boy, I was a pow
der monkey aboard the old Guerriere afore you was born.
Fvc been a galley slave aboard the pirate proas of the Dejf
of Algiers, Fve been shipwrecked among the head-hunt*
ing Dyaks, pursued by Arab dhows in the Straits of Aden r
and careened in the Dry Tortugas. But don't you heed
this old man's talk; you young folks go along and have fl
look through my spyglass. What's that you say— a sus<
picious moisture in my eye? Pshaw— a bit of rain, shiver:
my blini. And coughing to hide his embarrassment, old
Peleg hobbled up the shell-decorated path to his cottage
as Frederica and I spat reflectively on his peonies ami
turned our faces toward Ostable and the setting sun.
SAUCE FOR THE GANDER
Every so often, when business slackens up in
the bowling alley and the other pin boys are hunched
over their game of bezique, I like to exchange my sweat-
shirt for a crisp white surgical tunic, polish up my optical
mirror, and examine the corset advertisements in the New
York Herald Tribune rotogravure section and the various
women's magazines. It must be made clear at the outset
that my motives are the purest and my curiosity that of
the scientific research worker rather than the sex maniac.
Of course, I can be broken down under cross-examination;
I like a trim ankle as well as anyone, but once I start scrub-
bing up and adjusting the operative mask, Materia Medica
comes in the door and Betty Grable flies out the window.
God knows how the convention ever got started, but
if it is true that the camera never lies, a foundation gar-
ment or a girdle stimulates the fair sex to a point just this
side of madness. The little ladies are always represented
with their heads thrown back in an attitude of fierce de-
sire, arms upflung to an unseen deity as though swept
along in some Dionysian revel. If you hold your ear close
enough to the printed page, you can almost hear the
throbbing of the temple drums and the chant of the
votaries. Those sultry, heavy-lidded glances, those tem-
pestuous, Corybantic gestures of abandon— what magic
property is there in an ordinary silk-and-Lastex bellyband
to cause a housewife to behave like Little Egypt?
Perhaps the most curious mutation of the corset adver-
tisement is the transformation, or clinical type, consisting
of two photographs. The first shows a rather bedraggled
young matron in a gaping, misshapen girdle at least half a
dozeS sizes too large for her, cringing under the cool
inspection of a trained nurse and several friends. Judging
from the flowers and the tea service, the hostess has in-
vited her neighbors in to deride her physique, for they are
exclaiming in unison, "Ugh, my dear— you Ve got lordosis
[unlovely bulge and sagging backline]!" The second pho-
tograph, naturally, depicts the miracles wrought by the
proper girdle, which, in addition to the benefits promised
in the text, seems to have removed the crow's feet from
under the subject's eyes, marcelled her hair, reuphclstered
the divan, and papered the walls.
It strikes me that, by contrast, the manufacturers of
dainty underthings for men have been notably colorless in
their advertising. The best they are able to afford are those
static scenes in which four or five grim-jawed industrialists
stand about a locker room in their shorts scowling at ticker
tape, testing mashie niblicks, and riffling through first edi
tions. It may be only sexual chauvinism on my part, but I
submit that the opportunities for merchandising male lin-
gerie are limitless. I offer at least one of them in crude
dramatic form to blaze a trail for future copywriters.
(Scene: The consulting worn oi Dr. Terence Fitch, an
eminent Park Avenue specialist. The furniture consists oi
a few costly, unusual pieces, such as a kidney-shaped writ-
ing desk, a pancreas-shaped chair, and a spleen-shaped
^pittooi u As the cwrlnin rises, Miss Mayo, the nurse, is at
the telephone-shaped telephone.)
Miss Mayo (into phone)— Hello, Dr. Volney? . . .
This is Miss Mayo at Dr. Fitch's office. The Doctor is
forwarding you his analysis of Mr. Tichenor's underwear
problems; you should have it in the morning. . . . Not
(As she hangs up, Dr. Fitch enters, thoughtfully stroking
his Vandyke heard. He is followed by Freedley, a hag-
gard, middle-aged patient, knotting his tie.)
Dr. Fitch— Sit down, Freedley. . . . Oh, this is Miss
Mayo. She's a nier;e of the Mayo brothers, out West.
Freedley (warily)— How do you do, Miss Mayo? I've
read grand things about your uncles.
Miss Mayo— Not mine, you haven't. They've been ii>
Folsom the last three years for breaking and entering.
Dr. Fitch (seating himself)— All right now, Freedley,
suppose you tell me your symptoms.
Freedley— But I just told them to you.
Dr. Fitch— You did?
Freedley— Sure, not ten minutes ago.
Dr. Fitch— Well, repeat them. (Angrily) You don't
suppose I have time to listen to every crackpot who comes
in here bleating about his troubles, do you?
Freedley (humbly)— No, sir. Well, it's just that I have
this stuffy, uncomfortable sensation all the time.
Dr. Fitch— That's the way a head cold usually starts.
(Scribbling) You're to take fifteen of these tablets forty
times a day, or forty of them fifteen times a day, whichever
is more convenient.
Freedley— It's not my nose or throat, Doctor. I get it
mostly around the hips and the small of my back.
Dr. Fitch (testily)— Of course, of course. That's where
it's localized. Now, I also want you to get hold of a tonic.
I forgot the name of it, but it's about thirty dollars a
bottle. The clerk'll know.
Freedley— Will I feel better after I take it?
Dr. Fitch (coldly)— I'm a physician, Freedley, not an
astrologer. If you want a horoscope, there's a gypsy tea-
room over on Lexington Avenue.
Freedley (plaintively)— Gee, Dr. Fitch, this thing's
got me crazy. I can't keep my mind on my work—
Dr. Fitch— Work? Humph. Most of my patients have
private incomes. What do you do?
Freedley— I'm with the Bayonne Bag & String Com-
pany—assistant office manager.
Dr. Fitch— Getting along pretty well there?
Freedley (pitifully)— I was until this started. Now
Mr. Borvis keeps riding me. He says I'm like a person in
Dr. Fitch— That bulging, oppressive condition— no-
tice it mostly when you're sitting down, don't you?
Freedley— Why, how on earth can you tell, Doctor?
Dr. Fitch— We medical men have ways of knowing
these things. (Gravely) Well, Freedley, I can help you^
but only if you face the facts.
Freedley (quavering)— W-what is it, sir?
Dr. Fitch— Your union suit is too big for you.
Freedley (burying his face in his hands)— Oh, my
Dr. Fitch— There, there. Buck up, old man. We
mustn't give up hope.
Freedley (whimpering)— But you might be mistaken
—it's just a diagnosis.
Dr. Fitch (sternly)— The fluoroscope never lies,
Freedley. When I looked at you in there a moment ago,
I saw almost five yards of excess fabric bunched around
Freedley (wildly)— It's bound to shrink after I send
it to the laundry! Maybe Velma can take a tuck in it!
Dr. Fitch— That's only an evasion. (Pressing a hut-
ton ) It's lucky you came to me in time. If the public only
knew the annual toll exacted by ponderous, loosely fitting
underwear— (Miss Mayo enters) Miss Mayo, get me a
sterile union suit, size thirty-eight, porous-knit.
Freedley (licking his lips)— What— what are you
going to do?
Dr. Fitch (soothingly)— Now, this won't hurt a bit.
We'll just slip it on for size—
Freedley— I won't! I won't! (He cowers into a corner,
Bailing at Dr. Fitch and Miss Mayo as they close in on
him. They pinion his arms tightly y thrust him into an
adjoining dressing room, and fling the union suit after
Miss Mayo (in a low voice)— Do you think he's got
a chance, Doctor?
Dr. Fitch— Hard to say, poor bugger. Did you feel
those enlarged folds of material on his back?
Miss Mayo— He may have a blanket and some sheets
hidden on him.
Dr. Fitch— You can't tell. They get cunning in the
(The door-shaped door of the dressing room opens and
Freedley re-enters, a changed man. He is portly, well
groomed, a connoisseur oi fine horseflesh and pretty
women, but withal a man oi keen business judgment. He
wears a pearl gray Homburg, Chesterfield overcoat, and
spats, carries a gold-headed cane, a hot bird, and a cold
Freedley (booming)— Well, Fitch, my boy, can't
waste any more time jawing with you. Fve got to cut along
to that board meeting. Just merged Bayonne Bag & String
with Consolidated Twine, you know!
Dr. Fitch— Er— that was rather sudden, wasn't it?
Freedley— Can't stand beating about the bush. Think
in telegrams, that's my motto. Want to know my secret,
Fitch? Fve worked hard and Fve played hard. And Fve
drunk a quart of whiskey every day of my life!
Dr. Fitch— Well, remember what I said. Don't overdo
Freedley (roaring)— Stuff and nonsense! Why, Fm as
sound as a nut. Got the appetite of a boy of twenty, sleep
like a top, and Fll outdance a youngster any day! (To
demonstrate, he catches up Miss Mayo, whirls her around
giddily, and, flushed with exertion, drops dead. The Doc-
tor and his nurse exchange slow, sidelong glances.)
Miss Mayo— Well, I guess science still has a lot to
Dr. Fitch (curtly)— None of your god-damned lip.
Drag him out and show in the next patient. (He turns
back to his desk, stroking his Vandyke more thoughtfully
Oil VERTIGO REVISITED
Just in case anybody here missed me at the
Mermaid Tavern this afternoon when the bowl of sack
was being passed; I spent most of it reclining on my chaise
longue in a negligee trimmed with marabou, reading
trashy bonbons and eating French yellow-backed novels.
What between amnesia (inability to find my rubbers)
and O'Hara's disease (ability to remember all the cunning
things I did last night), you might think I'd have sense
enough to sit still and mind my own business. But, oh, no,
not 1. 1 had to start looking through Harper's Bazaar yet.
If a perfectly strange lady came up to you on the street
and demanded, "Why don't you travel with a little rasp-
berry-colored cashmere blanket to throw over yourself
in hotels and trains?" the chances are that you would turn
on your heel with dignity and hit her with a bottle. Yet
that is exactly what has been happening for the past
twenty months in the pages of a little raspberry-colored
magazine called Harper's Bazaar. And don't think it does
any good to pretend there is no magazine called Harper's
Bazaar. I've tried that, too, and all I get is something
called "circular insanity." Imagine having both circular
insanity and Harper's Bazaar!
The first time I noticed this "Why Don't You?" de-
partment was a year ago last August while hungrily de-
vouring news of the midsummer openings in the haute
couture. Without any preamble came the stinging query,
"Why don't you rinse your blonde child's hair in dead
champagne, as they do in France? Or pat her face gently
with cream before she goes to bed, as they do in Eng-
land?" After a quick look into the nursery, I decided to
let my blonde child go to hell her own way, as they do
in America, and read on. "Why don't you/' continued
the author, spitting on her hands, "twist her pigtails
around her ears like macaroons?" I reread this several
times to make sure I wasn't dreaming and then turned to
the statement of ownership in the back of the magazine.
Just because the Marquis de Sade wasn't mentioned
didn't fool me; you know as well as I do who must have
controlled fifty-one per cent of the stock. I slept across the
foot of the crib with a loaded horse pistol until the next
It appeared, all right, all right, and after a quick gander
at the activities of Nicky de Gunzburg, Lady Abdy, and
the Vicomtesse de Noailles, which left me right back
where I started, I sought out my "Why Don't You?"
column. "Why don't you try the effect of diamond roses
and ribbons flat on your head, as Garbo wears them when
she says good-bye to Armand in their country retreat?"
asked Miss Sly Boots in a low, thrilling voice. I was living
in my own country retreat at the time, and as it happened
to be my day to go to the post office (ordinarily the post
office comes to me), I welcomed this chance to vary the
monotony. Piling my head high with diamond roses and
ribbons, I pulled on a pair of my stoutest espadrilles and
set off, my cat frisking ahead of me with many a warning
cry of "Here comes my master, the Marquis of Carabas!"
We reached the post office without incident, except for
the elderly Amish woman hoeing cabbages in her garden
As I threw her a cheery greeting, Goody Two-shoes looked
up, gave a rapid exhibition of Cheyne-Stokes breathing,
and immediately turned to stone. In case you ever get
down that way, she is still standing there, slightly chipped
but otherwise in very good condition, which is more than
I can say for the postmaster. When I walked in, he was
in process of spitting into the top drawer, where he keeps
the money-order blanks. One look at Boxholder 14 and
he went out the window without bothering to raise the
sash. A second later I heard a frightened voice directing
a small boy to run for the hex doctor next door to the
Riegels\ I spent the night behind some willows near the
Delaware and managed to work my way back to the farm
without being detected, but it was a matter of months
before I was able to convince the countryside that I had
a twin brother, enormously wealthy but quite mad, who
had eluded his guards and paid me a visit.
For a time I went on a sort of Harper's Bazaar wagon,
tapering myself off on Pictorial Review and Good House-
keeping, but deep down I knew I was a gone goose. When-
ever I got too near a newsstand bearing a current issue of
the Bazaar and my head started to swim, I would rush
home and bury myself in dress patterns. And then, one
inevitable day, the dam burst. Lingering in Brentano's
basement over U Illustration and Blanco y Negro, I felt
the delicious, shuddery, half-swooning sensation of being
drawn into the orbit again. On a table behind me lay a
huge stack of the very latest issue of Harper's Bazaar,
smoking hot from the presses. "Ah, come Qn," I heard
my evil genius whisper. ''One little peek can't hurt you.
Nobody's looking/' With trembling fingers I fumbled
through the advertisements for Afghan hounds, founda-
tion garments, and bath foams to the "Why Don't You?"
section. Tiny beads of perspiration stood out on my even
tinier forehead as I began to read, "Why don't you build
beside the sea, or in the center of your garden, a white
summer dining room shaped like a tent, draped with
wooden swags, with walls of screen and Venetian blinds,
so you will be safe from bugs and drafts?" I recoiled, claw-
ing the air. "No, no!" I screamed. "I won't! I can't!
Help/" But already the column was coiling around me,
its hot breath on my neck. "Why don't you concentrate
on fur jackets of marvelous workmanship and cut, made
of inexpensive furs with incomprehensible names? Why
don't you bring back from Central Europe a huge white
baroque porcelain stove to stand in your front hall, re-
flected in the parquet? Why don't you buy in a hardware
store a plain pine knife-basket with two compartments
and a handle— mount this on four legs and you will have
the ideal little table to sort letters and bills on, and to
carry from your bedside to the garden or wherever you
happen to be?" Unfortunately I had only the two legs
God gave me, but I mounted those basement stairs like
a cheetah, fought off the restraining hands of voluptuous
salesladies, and hurtled out into the cool, sweet air of
West Forty-seventh Street. I'm sorry I snatched the paper
knife out of that desk set, Mr. Brentano, but you can
send a boy for it at my expense. And by the way, do you
ever have any call for back numbers of fashion magazines?
Fade in, exterior grassy knoll, long shot. Above
the scene the thundering measures of Von Suppe's "Light
Cavalry Overture/' Austerlitz? The Plains of Abraham?
Vicksburg? The Little Big Horn? Cambrai? Steady on,
old son; it is Yorktown. Under a blood-red setting sun yon
proud crest is Cornwallis. Blood and 'ouns, proud sirrah,
dost brush so lightly past an exciseman of the Crown?
Lady Rotogravure's powdered shoulders shrank from the
highwayman's caress; what, Jermyn, footpads on Houn-
slow Heath? A certain party in the D. A.'s office will hear
of this, you bastard. There was a silken insolence in his
smile as he drew the greatcoat about his face and leveJed
his shooting-iron at her dainty puss. Leave go that lady
or I'll smear yuh. No quarter, eh? Me, whose ancestors
scuttled stately India merchantmen of their comfits and
silken stuffs and careened their piratical craft in the Dry
Tortugas to carouse with bumboat women till the cock
crew? Yuh'll buy my booze or I'll give yuh a handful of
clouds. Me, whose ancestors rode with Yancey, Jeb Stuart,
and Joe Johnston through the dusty bottoms of the Chick-
amauga? Oceans of love, but not one cent for tribute.
Make a heel out of a guy whose grandsire, Olaf Hasholem,
swapped powder and ball with the murderous Sioux
through the wheels of a Conestoga wagon, who mined the
yellow dirt with Sutter and slapped nuggets across the
rude bars of Leadville and Goldfield? One side, damn
your black hide, suh, or Ah'll send one mo' dirty Litvak
to the boneyard. It's right up the exhibitor's alley, Mr.
Biberman, and you got to hand it to them on a platter
steaming hot. I know, Stanley, but let's look at this thing
reasonable; we been showing the public Folly Larrabee's
drawers two years and they been cooling off. Jeez Crize—
it's a hisTORical drama, Mr. Biberman, it'll blow 'em
outa the back of the houses, it's the greatest thing in the
industry, it's dynamite! Pardon me, officer, is that Gen-
eral Washington? Bless yer little heart, mum, and who
may yez be, savin' yer prisince? Honest old Brigid the
apple-woman of Trinity, is it? How degage he sits on his
charger, flicking an infinitesimal speck of ash from his
plum-colored waistcoat! Gentlemen, I give you Martha
Custis, hetman of the Don Cossacks, her features etched
with the fragile beauty of a cameo. And I walked right in
on her before she had a chance to pull the god-damned
kimono together. But to be away from all this— to lean
back puffing on one's churchwarden at Mount Vernon
amid the dull glint of pewter, to watch the firelight play«
ing over polished Duncan Phyf e and Adam while faithful
old Cudjo cackles his ebony features and mixes a steaming
lime toddy! Tired, Roy, I'm tired, I tell you. Tired of
the rain, the eternal surge of the breakers on that lagoon,
the glitter of the reef in that eternity out there. CHRIS-
TIAN! She laughed contemptuously, her voluptuous
throat filling with a rising sob as she faced Davidson like
a hounded animal. You drove me out of Papeete but I'll
go to Thursday Island with my banjo on my knee. Yeh,
yeh, so what? We made FOUR pictures like that last
year. Oh, my God, Mr. Biberman, give me a chance, it's
only a flashback to plant that she's a woman with a past.
Sixteen hundred a week I pay you to hand me back the
plot of Love's Counterfeiters Selig made in 1912! She's
who? She's what? What's the idea her coming here?
What's she trying to do, turn a production office into a
whorehouse? No, Miss Reznick, tell her to wait, I'll be
through in five minutes. Now get it, Mr. Biberman, it's
big. You establish the messroom and truck with Farns-
worth till he faces Charteris. I said Sixth Rajputana Rifles
and- 1 don't want a lotta muggs paradin' around in the uni-
forms of the Preobazhensky Guard, y' get me? Yep, he's
on a tear, those foreign directors are very temperamental,
did I ever tell you about the time Lazlo Nugasi said he'd
buy me a brassiere if I let him put it on? Fake it with a
transparency of Khyber Pass. Now an overhead shot of the
dusty tired column filing into Sidi-bel-Abbes. Shoulder
by shoulder they march in the faded blue of the Legion,
fun-loving Dick and serious-minded Tom. Buddies, the
greatest word in the French language, flying to the de-
fense of each other like a homo pigeon. Greater love hath
Onan. Swinging a chair into that mob of lime-juicers in
the Mile End Bar in Shanghai. But came a slant-eyed
Chinese adventuress, and then? Don't shoot, Butch, for
Gossake! Heave 'em into the prison yard, we'll keep the
screws out of the cell-block and wilderness were paradise
enow. Stow the swag in Cincy, kid, and go on alone, I'm
done for. Too late, old Pogo the clown stopped it in the
sweetbreads. They buried him outside the town that
night, a motley crew of freaks and circus people. What a
sequence! Old man Klingspiel told me he bawled like a
baby. Laugh, you inhuman monster they call the crowd,
old Pogo lies dead with only a bareback rider's spangle to
mark his grave and a seat for every child in the public
schools! When tall ships shook out their plumage and
raced from Salem to Hong Kong to bring back tea. Break
out the Black Ball ensign, Mr. Exhibitor, there's sweet
music in that ole cash register! A double truck in every
paper in town and a smashing drawing by the best artist
we got, mind you. Take the kiddies to that colossal red-
blooded human drama of a boy's love for his dog. This
is my hunting lodge, we'll stop here and dry your things,
But of course it's all right, cara mia, I'm old enough to be
your father. Let me go, you beast— MOTHER! What are
you doing here? I ask you confidentially, Horowitz, can't
we get that dame to put on some women's clothes, a skirl
or something? The fans are getting wise, all those flat
heeled shoes and men's shirts like a lumberjack. Get me
Gerber in publicity, he'll dish out some crap about her
happy home life. Vorkapich around the room to Dmitri's
brother officers as they register consternation at the news.
Good chance for some hokey bellies on comedy types.
What, sir, you dare mention Alexandra Petrovna's name
in a saloon? The kid takes it big and gives Diane the
gloves across the pan socko. The usual satisfaction, I pre-
sume? Drawing on his gloves as a thin sneer played across
his features. Yeh, a martinet and for Crisakes remember
it's not a musical instrument this time. But eet ees mad-
ness, Serge! The best swordsman in St. Mary's parish, he
weel run you through in a tweenkling! Oh, darling, you
can't, you can't. Her hair had become undone and he
plunged his face into its fragrance, unbuckling his sabre
and flinging it on the bed beside them. Hurry, even now
my husband is fried to the ears in a low boozing-den in
Pokrovsky Street. Of course it is he, I'd know that lousy
busby anywhere in St. Petersburg. Shoot it two ways, you
can always dub it in the sound track. She shrieks or she
don't shriek, what the hell difference does it make? Told
me he was going to night school at the Smolny Institute,
the cur. And I believed him, thought Pyotr pityingly, sur-
veying her luscious bust with greedy eyes. Never leave me r
my sweet, and then bejeezus an angle shot toward the
door of the General leaning against the lintel stroking his
mustache. Crouching against the wall terrified yet shin-
ing-eyed as women are when men do gallant combat.
Throw him your garter, Lady Aspinwall, throw your slip-
per, throw your lunch, but for Gawd's sake throw some-
thing! Parry/ Thrust! Touche! Where are they all now,
the old familiar faces? What a piece of business! Grabs a
string of onions and swings himself up the balcony, fenc
ing with the soldiers. Got you in the groin that time, Gen-
eral! Mine host, beaming genially, rubbing his hands and
belching. Get Anderson ready with the sleighbells and
keep that snow moving. Hit 'em all! Hotter on eighty-
four, Joe Devlin! Are we up to speed? Quiet, please, we're
turning! Chicago, hog-butcher to the world, yclept the
Windy City. BOOZE AND BLOOD, he oughta know,
\unning a drug store eleven years on Halstead Street. You
cut to the back of the Big Fellow, then three lap dissolves
of the presses— give 'em that Ufa stuff, then to the street—
i newsbody, insert of the front page, the L roaring by—
Kerist, it's the gutsiest thing in pictures! Call you back,
chief. Never mind the Hays office, this baby is censor-
proof! Call you back, chief. Well heave the telephone
through the glass door and smack her in the kisser with the
grapefruit, they liked it once and they'll love it twice. Call
you back, chief. The gat in the mesh-bag. A symbol, get
me? Now remember, staccato. . . A bit tight, my sweet?
Marrowforth teetered back and forth on his heels, his
sensitive artist's fingers caressing the first edition he loved.
Item, one Hawes and Curtis dress-suit, one white tie,
kindly return to Mister Dreyfus in the wardrobe depart-
ment. What color do I remind you of? Purple shot with
pleasure, if you ask me. Do I have to work with a lot of pim-
ply grips giving me the bird? Papa's in the doghouse and
keep up the tempo of the last scene, you looked crummy
in yesterday's dailies. A warm, vivid and human story with
just that touch of muff the fans demand. Three Hundred
Titans Speed Westward as King Haakon Lays Egg on
Shoe-String. And sad-eyed Grubnitz by the Wailing Wall
demands: What will the inde exhibs do? Let 'em eat cake,
we're packing 'em in with 29 Garson-Pidgeons in 1944.
Ask Hyman Gerber of Waco, he can smell a box-office pic-
ture a mile away. In the freezing mists of dawn they gath-
ered by the fuselages of their planes and gripped hands.
But Rex Jennings of the shining eyes and the high heart
never came back. Jerry got him over Chalons. I tell you
it's murder to send a mere boy up in a crate like that! The
god-damned production office on my neck all day. It's
midsummer madness, Fiametta! You mustn't! I must!
I want you! You want me? But I— I'm just a poor little
slavey, and you— why, all life's ahead of you! Fame, the
love of a good woman, children! And your music, Raoul!
Excuse me, miss, are you Fiametta Desplains? I am Yan-
kel Patchouli, a solicitor. Here is my card and a report of
my recent urinalysis. Raoul! Raoul! Come quick! A mil
lion dollars! Now you can go to Paris and study youl
counterpoint! Damn my music, Fiametta, my happiness
was in my own back yard all the time and I was, how you
say it, one blind fool. The gingham dress and half-parted
lips leaning on a broom. But why are you looking at me
in that strange way, Tony? . . . Tony! Fm afraid of you!
Oh . . . You utter contemptible despicable CAD. He
got up nursing his jaw. Spew out your poison, you rat. You
didn't know she was the morganatic wife of Prince Rup-
precht, did you? That her affairs with men were the talk
of Vienna, did you? That— Vanya, is this true? Bowed
head, for her man. His boyish tousled head clean-cut
against the twilight. Get out. Get out GET OUT! Oh,
mumsey, I want to die. That hooker's gotta lay off that
booze, Mr. Metz, once more she comes on the set stinking
and I take the next boat back to Buda-Pesth. But in a
great tangled garden sits a forlorn tragic-eyed figure; the
face a mask of carved ivory, the woman nobody knows—
Tilly Bergstrom. What lies behind her shattered romance
with Grant Snavely, idol of American flaps? Turn 'em
over, you punks, I'll stay on this set till I get it right.
Cheese it, de nippers! The jig is up, long live the jig— ring
out the old, ring in the new. For love belongs to everyone,
the best things in life are free.
A FAREWELL TO OMSK
(The terrifying result of reading an entire gift set
of Dostoievsky in one afternoon.)
Late one afternoon in January, 18— , passersby
in L. Street in the town of Omsk might have seen a cur-
ious sight. A young man of a somewhat flushed, feverish
appearance was standing outside Pyotr Pyotrvitch's to*
bacco shop. This in itself was interesting, as Pyotr Pyotr-
vitch had no tobacco shop in L. Street. Even had he had
one, there would have been a large gaping hole in the side-
walk in front of it due to a sewer excavation, so that only
the top of the young man's head would be visible. Of
itself there was nothing unusual in the spectacle of a
young man standing up to his knees in water staring fix-
edly at the fresh loam piled up about him. What amused
the passersby was that any one should want to go into
Pyotr Pyotrvitch's shop, since it was common knowledge
that Pyotr had died some years before of the bends and
his shop had been converted into an abattoir or worse.
Indeed, there were those who maintained that the shop
had never been there at all— was, in short, a sort of mirage
such as is often seen by travelers in the desert. But there
was such a look of idealism on the young man's face, of
the kind which is so often to be observed nowadays in
Dur Russian university students, that the irreverent titters
and cries of "Ach, pfoo!" were quickly silenced. Finally
the young man sighed deeply, cast a look of determina-
tion around him, and entered the shop.
"Good afternoon, Pyotr Pyotrvitch!" he said resolutely.
"Good afternoon, Afya Afyakievitch!" replied the
shopkeeper warmly. He was the son of a former notary
public attached to the household of Prince Grashkin and
gave himself no few airs in consequence. Whilst speaking
it was his habit to extract a greasy barometer from his
waistcoat and consult it importantly, a trick he had
learned from the Prince's barber. On seeing Afya Afya-
kievitch he skipped about nimbly, dusted off the counter,
gave one of his numerous offspring a box on the ear, drank
a cup of tea, and on the whole behaved like a man of the
world who has affairs of moment occupying him.
"Well, Afya Afyakievitch/' he said with a sly smile,
"what can I sell you today? Cigarettes, perhaps?"
"Cigarettes?" repeated the young man vaguely. A pe-
culiar shudder passed over his frame as he regarded the
top of Pyotr's head intently. It was just wide enough to fit
the blade of an ax. A strange smile played about his lips,
and only the entrance of another personage distracted
him. This was none other than Alaunia Alaunovna, the
shopkeeper's daughter, a prostitute with a look of exalta-
tion on her timid face, who entered and stood unobtru-
sively in a corner.
"How patient she is!" thought the young man, his heart
touched. An overpowering desire to throw himself at her
feet and kiss the hem of her garment filled his being.
"Well, well!" exclaimed Pyotr Pyotrvitch, anxious to
impress his customer. "Allow me, kind sir, to present my
daughter, Alaunia Alaunovna. She is a girl of education-
he, he!" A stifling feeling overcame the young man; he
wanted to throw himself at the man's feet and bite them.
Alaunia Alaunovna dropped a small curtsy. The young
man, a pitying expression on his face, picked it up and
quickly returned it to her. She gave him a grateful glance
"And— and what does your daughter do?" Afya asked
"She is a prostitute in a small way of business/' replied
"It's great work if you can get it," the young man stam-
"Permit me, it is the only way to live!" cried the shop-
keeper excitedly. But by now Afya was even more excited
than he was.
"Ah yes—excuse me— that is to say!" he began con-
fusedly. A swarm of thoughts filled his brain. "I used to
know a man, a titular councilor, Andron Andronovitch
Pojarsky, in the province of Z . We were in the Gym-
nasium together. Well, only fancy, last night I met him
at the Petrovsky Bridge, as I was returning from Dunya's
where we were having a discussion of certain ideas, 1
won't go into them, but Pimentov— he is a good-hearted
fellow, he had entered into a free marriage with his cousin
—tfoo, how I wander! Well, this Andron Andronovitch,
poor fellow, is in a bad way, in a word is reduced to eating
his rubbers, all he has left, in a certain sense. Ach, these
Slavophiles!" broke off Afya, taking out some old pieces
of cucumber and fish he had been carrying in his pocket
and dipping them in his tea. "Just imagine, he has such
extreme notions— Utopias, one might say. . . ."
"Yes! Yes!" interrupted Pyotr, nodding with great
rapidity, almost perspiring with excitement. "But you
spoke formerly of cigarettes, did you not? Here is a good
brand— fifteen kopecks a package, or two packages for
twenty-five kopecks! A brand much favored by the gar-
rison, young gentleman!"
"Fifteen kopecks?" asked Afya slowly. "Then the sec-
ond package must be only ten kopecks?"
"True, young sir," said Pyotr, screwing up his little
red-rimmed eyes in the manner of one who is about to
inspect a private aquarium. "But unfortunately I have
only one package."
"Pyotr Pyotrvitch," said the young man quietly, "do
you know what I think? I think this is a hell of a tobacco
shop, in any language."
"You're telling me?" inquired Pyotr sadly. "Hey, where
are you going? Just a moment— come, a cup of tea— let's
have a discussion. . . ."
"I'll be right outside in that sewer excavation if you
want me," said Afya over his shoulder. "I'd sort of like
to brood over things for a while."
"Well, skip the gutter," sighed Pyotr.
"Don't take any flannel kopecks," said Afya gloomily.
He dislodged a piece of horse-radish from his tie, shied it
at a passing Nihilist, and slid forward into the fresh loam.
NOTHING BUT THE TOOTH
I am thirty-eight years old, have curly brown
hair and blue eyes, own a uke and a yellow roadster, and
am considered a snappy dresser in my crowd. But the
thing I want most in the world for my birthday is a free
subscription to Oral Hygiene, published by Merwin B.
Massol, 1005 Liberty Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pa. In the event
you have been repairing your own teeth, Oral Hygiene
is a respectable smooth-finish technical magazine circu-
lated to your dentist with the compliments of his local
supply company. Through its pages runs a recital of the
most horrendous and fantastic deviations from the dental
norm. It is a confessional in which dentists take down
their back hair and stammer out the secrets of their craft
But every time I plunge into its crackling pages at my
dentist's, just as I get interested in the story of the Man
with the Alveolar Dentures or Thirty Reasons Why Peo-
ple Stay Away from Dentists, the nurse comes out slightly
flushed and smoothing her hair to tell me that the doctor
is ready. Last Thursday, for example, I was head over
heels in the question-and-answer department of Oral Hy-
giene. A frankly puzzled extractionist, who tried to cloak
his agitation under the initials "J- S. G.," had put his plight
squarely up to the editor: "I have a patient, a woman of
20, who has a full complement of teeth. All of her restora-
tions are gold foils or inlays. She constantly grinds her
teeth at night. How can I aid her to stop grinding them?
Would it do any good to give her a vellum rubber bite?"
But before I could learn whether it was a bite or just a
gentle hug the editor recommended, out popped Miss
Inchbald with lipstick on her nose, giggling, "The Doctor
is free now/' "Free" indeed— "running amok" would be
a better way to put it.
I had always thought of dentists as of the phlegmatic
type— square-jawed sadists in white aprons who found re-
lease in' trying out new kinds of burs on my shaky little
incisors. One look at Oral Hygiene fixed that. Of all the
inhibited, timorous, uncertain fumble-bunnies who creep
the earth, Mr. Average Dentist is the worst. A filing clerk is
a veritable sabre-toothed tiger by comparison. Faced with
a decision, your dentist's bones turn to water and he be-
comes all hands and feet. He muddles through his ordi-
nary routine with a certain amount of bravado, plugging
a molar here with chewing gum, sinking a shaft in a sound
tooth there. In his spare time he putters around his labo*
ratory making tiny cement cup-cakes, substituting amber
electric bulbs for ordinary bulbs in his waiting-room to
depress patients, and jotting down nasty little innuendoes
about people's gums in his notebook. But let an honest-
to-goodness sufferer stagger in with his face out of draw-
ing, and Mr. Average Dentist's nerves go to hell. He runs
sobbing to the "Ask Oral Hygiene" department and buries
his head in the lap of V. C. Smedley, its director. I dip in
for a typical sample:
Question— A patient of mine, a girl, 18, returned from
school recently with a weird story of lightning having struck
an upper right cuspid tooth and checked the enamel on the
labial surface nearly two-thirds of the way from the incis^
edge toward the neck. The patient was lying on a bed looking
out an open window during an electric storm, and this one
flash put out the lights of the house, and at the same time, the
patient felt a burning sensation (like a burning wire) along
the cuspid tooth. She immediately put her tongue on the
tooth which felt rough, but as the lights were out she could
not see it so she went to bed. (A taste as from a burnt match
accompanied the shock.)
Next morning she found the labial of the tooth black. Some
of the color came off on her finger. By continually brushing
all day with the aid of peroxide, salt, soda and vinegar she
removed the remainder of the black after which the tooth was
a yellow shade and there was some roughness on the labial
Could the lightning have caused this and do you recommend
smoothing the surface with discs?— R. D. L., d.d.s., Oregon.
Well, Doctor, let us take your story step by step. Miss
Muffet told you the sensation was like a burning wire,
and she tasted something like a burnt match. Did you
think, by any chance, of looking into her mouth for either
wire or matches? Did you even think of looking into her
mouth? I see no mention of the fact in your letter. You
state that she walked in and told you the story, that's all.
Of course it never occurred to you that she had brought
along her mouth for a reason. Then you say, "she removed
the remainder of the black after which the tooth was a
yellow shade." Would it be asking too much of you to
make up your mind? Was it a tooth or a yellow shade?
You're quite sure it wasn't a Venetian blind? Or a gaily
striped awning? Do you ever take a drink in the daytime,
Frankly, men, I have no patience with such idiotic pro-
fessional behavior. An eighteen-year-old girl walks into a
dentist's office exhibiting obvious symptoms of religious
hysteria (stigmata, etc.). She babbles vaguely of thunder-
storms and is patently a confirmed drunkard. The dentist
goes to pieces, forgets to look in her mouth, and scurries
off to Oral Hygiene asking for permission to smooth her
surface with discs. It's a mercy he doesn't take matters
into his own hands and try to plough every fourth tooth
under. This is the kind of man to whom we intrust our
There is practically no problem so simple that it cannot
confuse a dentist. For instance, thumb-sucking. "Could
you suggest a method to correct thumb and index finger
sucking by an infant of one year?" flutters a Minnesota
orthodontist, awkwardly digging his toe into the hot sand.
Dr. Smedley, whose patience rivals Job's, has an answer
for everything: "Enclose the hand by tying shut the end
of the sleeve of a sleeping garment, or fasten a section of
a pasteboard mailing tube to the sleeping garment in such
a position as to prevent the bending of the elbow suffi-
ciently to carry the thumb or index finger to the mouth."
Now truly, Dr. Smedley, isn't that going all the way around
Robin Hood's barn? Nailing the baby's hand to the high-
chair is much more cozy, or, if no nail is available, a
smart blow with the hammer on Baby's fingers will slow
him down. My grandfather, who was rather active in the
nineties (between Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues—
they finally got him for breaking and entering), always
used an effective method to break children of this habit,
He used to tie a Mills grenade to the baby's thumb with
cobbler's waxed thread, and when the little spanker pulled
out the detonating pin with his teeth, Grandpa would
stuff his fingers into his ears and run like the wind. Iron-
ically enough, the people with whom Grandpa now boards
have the same trouble keeping him from biting his
thumbs, but overcome it by making him wear a loose
jacket with very long sleeves, which they tie to the bars.
I have always been the mildest of men, but you remem-
ber the old saying, "Beware the fury of a patient man." (I
remembered it very well and put my finger on it instantly,
page 269 of Bartlett's book of quotations.) For years I
have let dentists ride rough-shod over my teeth; I have
been sawed, hacked, chopped, whittled, bewitched, be-
wildered, tattooed, and signed on again; but this is cus-
pid's last stand. They'll never get me into that chair again.
I'll dispose of my teeth as I see fit, and after they're gone,
I'll get along. I started off living on gruel, and, by God,
I can always go back to it again.
DON'T SPARE THAT TREE!
Wot long ago a landscape architect down my
way was retained by a lady who, to put it bluntly, had just
fallen heir to a satchelful of the stuff. Instead of the same
old flowers and trees, the fair client wanted a garden plan
for her country house which would express her own unique
personality: something arresting, terribly audacious, yet
smart; in short, identifying her unmistakably as a lady who
had just fallen heir to a satchelful. The architect smacked
his lips in a refined way, like a fox in a henhouse, and went
to work. Employing a dozen wooden horses gleaned from
a defunct amusement park, and a profusion of the rarest
vines, creepers, and bulbs known to man, he created a spec-
tacular floral carrousel that dazzled the countryside. Farm*
ers came from miles around to lean on their manure forks
and gape at the horticultural gew-gaw, but Mrs. Krebs
was clearly disappointed.
"You haven't captured my mood at all," she pouted
"Deep down, Fm really a mystic— haunting, inscrutable.
Now this/' she went on, waving toward a mournful Chir-
ico which had set her back eleven thousand clams, "this is
"You took the words right out of my mouth," agreed
the architect, "but I was just interpreting the little girl
in you. The spiritual side is on the fire and should be ready
any day now."
A week later, wrenched from its native California by
political influence plus considerable baksheesh, a gnarled
Monterey cypress rolled into the county seat on a flatcar.
It was unloaded and borne to the estate, where a gang of
workmen sank it in a cement base and sprayed it dead
white. One of New York's most recherche decorators then
looped smilax and Spanish moss from its writhing limbs,
and on the first night of the full moon the result was un-
veiled to its owner. The effect was so electric that the
architect now sends his fees to the bank in an armored
car and has taken to wearing pencil-striped pants in the
One might be inclined to shrug one's pretty shoulders
and dismiss such decadence as isolated were it not for a
photograph in a recent issue of the American Home. It
portrays a lifeless apple tree, hairy with vines and bird-
baths, rearing up forlornly in a small patio under the cap-
tion "Seeing the artistic possibilities of this dead tree, Mrs.
Clyde L. Hagerman, of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan,
bought it, had it set in concrete in her outdoor living
room, so she can drape it each summer in moon-flowers
and gourd vines/' Here, then, is a trend, as significant as
the first shifter pin or the original Eugenie hat. As the
hysteria spreads, any number of provocative situations
may arise, but one of them seems to fall naturally into
the dramatic pattern. Places, please.
(Scene: A country road toward dusk. A station wagon
rounds the bend, in its front seat Mr. and Mrs. Updegraff.
The tonneau is heaped high with Chinese-lacquer taborets
inlaid with mother-of-pearl, paintings on velvet, and other
post-Victorian bagatelles with which Mrs. Updegraff plans
to redecorate her home. She is busily examining two yel-
lowed Welsbach mantles.)
Mrs. Updegraff (exultantly)— They're just like the
ones Lilian Gassaway bought at the Parke-Bernet Gal-
leries—she'll be furious! I'll have them dyed dark blue
and use them for flower-holders.
Mr. Updegraff (listlessly)— What are you going to
do with that old sewing machine back there— open a sweat
Mrs. Updegraff— No, the feet'll make a lovely coffee
table. I saw the very piece of marble in that Portuguese
cemetery we passed. Couldn't we sneak out some dark
night . . .
Mr. Updegraff (violently)— Who the hell do you
think we are— Burke and Hare? Now, listen, look here,
Mrs. Updegraff (suddenly)— Stop! Stop the car! Wc
just passed it!
Mr. Updegraff— What?
Mrs. Updegraff— The hickory I've been lickory for—
I mean the hickory I've been looking for! Oh, Leslie, it's
a dream! Look at those great, tormented limbs! Come on!
Let's find out how much they're asking!
Mr. Updegraff (desperately)— Now, Juanita, you
know we can't afford—
Mrs. Updegraff (in another world)— I can just sec
Myrtle Greneker's face, giving herself airs with that mis-
erable little sycamore of hers.
Mr. Updegraff— But this thing's dead!
Mrs. Updegraff— Of course it is, silly. Do you suppose
I'd put a live hickory in our patio? Don't be tacky.
Mr. Updegraff— A zombie, that's what I married.
Cemeteries, dead hickories. . . .
(He moodily throws the car into reverse. The curtain is
lowered for a few moments while the scenery is being
shifted. Should the audience become restive, the interval
can be filled by a ballet, "Six Who Pass While the Con-
crete Boils/ 9 in which halt a dozen stocky Bryn Mawr
girls in gray jersey stride convulsively from one end of the
stage to the other tugging at a veil. This symbolizes the
forces of water, sand, and Portland cement at first refus-
ing to work harmoniously, then uniting for the common
good. When the curtain rises again it discloses Reuben
Hayseed, a farmer with chin whiskers and a linen duster,
seated in a rocker tilted against his home, over which
towers the dead hickory. One of Reubens two young sons
has hoisted his brother up into the limbs in a fragile box
of the sort used for packing eggs.)
Hayseed (thickly)— Gad, it's murder to send a mere
boy up in a crate like that.
(His words are prophetic; a moment later the boy plum-
mets out of the tree and breaks his neck. He is borne oft
stage with many lamentations by the six Bryn Mawr girls
in a pageant entitled "Youth in the Hands of the Receiv-
ers." Enter Mr. and Mrs. Updegraff.)
Mrs. Updegraff— That tree's unsafe! It ought to b4
Hayseed (placidly)— We like it.
Mrs. Updegraff— You watch, it'll come crashing down
through the roof some day.
Hayseed— That's what makes life at Echo Valley Farm
Mrs. Updegraff (snorting)— It's just a lot of old fire-
wood to me.
Hayseed— Really? I can't quite agree. Sometimes,
viewed by moonlight, its gaunt agony typifies the melan*
choly and futility of existence.
Mr. Updegraff— That's pretty dickty talk for u
Hayseed— It may interest you to learn that I am one of
the few farmers who ever graduated from the Sorbonne.
Mr. Updegraff— No kid? Why, I'm an old Sorbonne
man myself! What'd you major in?
Hayseed— None of your god-damned business.
Mrs. Updegraff— Look here, young man, we may have
a use for that old stump. How much do you want for it?
Hayseed— Sixty dollars.
Mr. Updegraff— Sixty dollars!
Hayseed— Hear that echo? Clear as a bell. (Proudly)
No wonder they call this place Echo Valley Farm.
Mrs. Updegraff— Isn't— isn't that rather expensive?
Hayseed— Not for an original. I've got a barnful of
copies out there at ten dollars, if that's what you want.
Mrs. Updegraff— No, I couldn't bear anything neaf
me that wasn't authentic. I'm funny that way.
Hayseed-So am I. I'd just as soon take half the money
to have my pieces go into a home where they're appre-
Mr. Updegraff— Is that an offer?
Hayseed— No, simply a manner of speaking.
Mrs. Updegraff— Oh, Leslie, it is divine, isn't it? After
all, we could economize next month. Spaghetti's cheap,
but it's filling.
Mr. Updegraff (a dead pigeon) -Yes, dear. (To Hay-
seed) Do you mind taking a check? It isn't certified.
Hayseed— Not at all. What bank?
Mr. Updegraff— Corn Exchange.
HAYSEED-Funny, I'm an old Corn Exchange man my-
self. How big's your balance?
Mr. Updegraff— None of your god-damned business.
Hayseed (folding check) -There. And now can I in-
terest you folks in a plate of Mrs. Hayseed's real country
doughnuts, piping hot from the oven?
Mr. Updegraff (hastily) -Er-no, thanks, we'll just
pick up some cheap copies along the road.
(As the Updegraff s exit, Hayseed resumes his seat in the
rocker with a contented sigh and, taking up an old cob-
bler's bench, begins to convert it into a lamp.)
STRICTLY FROM HUNGER
Yes I was excited, and small wonder. What boy
wouldn't be, boarding a huge, mysterious, puffing steam
train for golden California? As Mamma adjusted my reefer
and strapped on my leggings, I almost burst with impa-
tience. Grinning redcaps lifted my luggage into the com*
partment and spat on it. Mamma began to weep into a
small pillow-case she had brought along for the purpose.
"Oh, son, I wish you hadn't become a scenario writer f r
"Aw, now, Moms/' I comforted her, "it's no worse than
playing the piano in a call-house." She essayed a brave
little smile, and, reaching into her reticule, produced a flat
package which she pressed into my hands. For a moment
I was puzzled, then I cried out with glee.
"Jelly sandwiches! Oh, Moms!"
"Eat them all, boy o' mine," she told me, "they're good
for boys with hollow little legs." Tenderly she pinned to
my lapel the green tag reading "To Plushnick Productions,
Hollywood, California." The whistle shrilled and in a
moment I was chugging out of Grand Central's dream-
ing spires followed only by the anguished cries of relatives
who would now have to go to work. I had chugged only
a few feet when I realized that I had left without the train,
so I had to run back and wait for it to start.
As we sped along the glorious fever spots of the Hudson
I decided to make a tour of inspection. To my surprise 1
found that I was in the only passenger car of the train; the
other cars were simply dummies snipped out of cardboard
and painted to simulate coaches. Even "passengers" had
been cunningly drawn in colored crayons in the "win-
dow/' as well as ragged tramps clinging to the blinds below
and drinking Jamaica ginger. With a rueful smile I re-
turned to my seat and gorged myself on jelly sandwiches.
At Buffalo the two other passengers and I discovered to
our horror that the conductor had been left behind. We
finally decided to divide up his duties; I punched the
tickets, the old lady opposite me wore a conductor's hat
and locked the washroom as we came into stations, and
the young man who looked as if his feet were not mates
consulted a Hamilton watch frequently. But we missed
the conductor's earthy conversation and it was not until
we had exchanged several questionable stories that we
began to forget our loss.
A flicker of interest served to shorten the trip. At Fort
Snodgrass, Ohio, two young and extremely polite road-
agents boarded the train and rifled us of our belongings.
They explained that they were modern Robin Hoods and
were stealing from the poor to give to the rich. They had
intended to rape all the women and depart for Sherwood
Forest, but when I told them that Sherwood Forest as
well as the women were in England, their chagrin was
comical in the extreme. They declined my invitation to
stay and take a chance on the train's pool, declaring that
the engineer had fixed the run and would fleece us, and
got off at South Bend with every good wish.
The weather is always capricious in the Middle West,
and although it was midsummer, the worst blizzard in
Chicago's history greeted us on our arrival. The streets
were crowded with thousands of newsreel cameramen
trying to photograph one another bucking the storm on
the Lake Front. It was a novel idea for the newsreels and
I wished them well. With only two hours in Chicago I
would be unable to see the city, and the thought drew
me into a state of composure. I noted with pleasure thai
a fresh coat of grime had been given to the Dearborn
Street station, though I was hardly vain enough to believe
that it had anything to do with my visit. There was the
usual ten-minute wait while the porters withdrew with my
portable typewriter to a side room and flailed it with ham-
mers, and at last I was aboard the "Sachem/' crack train
of the B.B.D. & O. lines.
It was as if I had suddenly been transported into an-
other world. "General Crook," in whom I was to make
my home for the next three days, and his two neighbors,
"Lake Tahoe" and "Chief Malomai," were everything
that the word "Pullman" implies; they were Pullmans.
Uncle Eben, in charge of "General Crook," informed me
that the experiment of air-cooling the cars had been so
successful that the road intended trying to heat them next
"Ah suttinly looks fo'd to dem roastin' ears Ah's gwine
have next winter, he, he, he!" he chuckled, rubbing soot
into my hat.
The conductor told me he had been riding on trains
for so long that he had begun to smell like one, and sure
enough, two brakemen waved their lanterns at him that
night and tried to tempt him down a siding in Kansas
City. We became good friends and it came as something
oi a blow when I heard the next morning that he had
fallen off the train during the night. The fireman said
that we had circled about for an hour trying to find him
but that it had been impossible to lower a boat because
we did not carry a boat.
The run was marked by only one incident out of the
ordinary. I had ordered breaded veal cutlet the first eve-
ning, and my waiter, poking his head into the kitchen, had
repeated the order. The cook, unfortunately, understood
him to say "dreaded veal cutlet," and resenting the slur,
sprang at the waiter with drawn razor. In a few seconds I
was the only living remnant of the shambles, and at To*
peka I was compelled to wait until a new shambles was
hooked on and I proceeded with dinner.
It seemed only a scant week or ten days before we were
pulling into Los Angeles. I had grown so attached to my
porter that I made him give me a lock of his hair. I won-
der if he still has the ten-cent piece I gave him? There
was a gleam in his eye which could only have been in-
sanity as he leaned over me. Ah, Uncle Eben, faithful old
retainer, where are you now? Gone to what obscure ossu-
ary? If this should chance to meet your kindly gaze, drop
me a line care of Variety, won't you? They know what to
do with it.
The violet hush of twilight was descending over Los
Angeles as my hostess, Violet Hush, and I left its suburbs
headed toward Hollywood. In the distance a glow of huge
piles of burning motion-picture scripts lit'up the sky. The
crisp tang of frying writers and directors whetted my ap-
petite. How good it was to be alive, I thought, inhaling
deep lungfuls of carbon monoxide. Suddenly our power-
ful Gatti-Cazazza slid to a stop in the traffic.
"What is it, Jenkin?" Violet called anxiously through
the speaking-tube to the chauffeur (played by Lyle Tal-
A suttee was in progress by the roadside, he said— did
we wish to see it? Quickly Violet and I elbowed our way
through the crowd. An enormous funeral pyre composed
of thousands of feet of film and scripts, drenched with
Chanel Number Five, awaited the torch of Jack Holt,
who was to act as master of ceremonies. In a few terse
words Violet explained this unusual custom borrowed
from the Hindus and never paid for. The worst disgrace
that can befall a producer is an unkind notice from a
New York reviewer. When this happens, the producer
becomes a pariah in Hollywood. He is shunned by his
friends, thrown into bankruptcy, and like a Japanese elect-
ing hara-kiri, he commits suttee. A great bonfire is made
of the film, and the luckless producer, followed by direct-
ors, actors, technicians, and the producer's wives, immo-
late themselves. Only the scenario writers are exempt.
These are tied between the tails of two spirited Caucasian
ponies, which are then driven off in opposite directions,
This custom is called "a conference/'
Violet and I watched the scene breathlessly. Near us
Harry Cohn, head of Columbia Studios, was being rubbed
with huck towels preparatory to throwing himself into
the flames. He was nonchalantly smoking a Rocky Ford
Eve-center, and the man's courage drew a tear to the eye
of even the most callous. Weeping relatives besought him
to eschew his design, but he stood adamant. Adamant
Eve, his plucky secretary, was being rubbed with crash
towels preparatory to flinging herself into Cohn's embers.
Assistant directors busily prepared spears, war-bonnets
and bags of pemmican which the Great Chief would need
on his trip to the "Happy Hunting Grounds." Wampas
and beads to placate the Great Spirit (played by Will
Hays) were piled high about the stoical tribesman.
Suddenly Jack Holt (played by Edmund Lowe) raised
his hand for silence. The moment had come. With bowed
head Holt made a simple invocation couched in one-
syllable words so that even the executives might under-
stand. Throwing his five-center to a group of autograph-
hunters, the great man poised himself for the fatal leap.
But from off-scene came the strident clatter of cocoanut
shells, and James Agee, Filmdom's fearless critic, wearing
the uniform of a Confederate guerrilla and the whiskers of
General Beauregard, galloped in on a foam-flecked pinto.
It was he whose mocking review had sent Cohn into Cov-
entry. It was a dramatic moment as the two stood pitted
against each other— Cohn against Agee, the Blue against
the Gray. But with true Southern gallantry Agee was the
first to extend the hand of friendship.
"Ah reckon it was an unworthy slur, suh," he said in
manly tones. "Ah-all thought you-alFs pictuah was lousy
but it opened at the Rialto to sensational grosses, an'
Ah-all Apologizes. Heah, have a yam/' And he drew a yam
from his tunic. Not to be outdone in hospitality, Cohn
drew a yam from his tunic, and soon they were exchang
ing yams and laughing over the old days.
When Violet and I finally stole away to our waiting
motor, we felt that we were somehow nearer to each other,
I snuggled luxuriously into the buffalo lap-robe Violet
had provided against the treacherous night air and gazed
out at the gleaming neon lights. Soon we would be in
Beverly Hills, and already the quaint native women were
swarming alongside in their punts urging us to buy their
cunning beadwork and mangoes. Occasionally I threw a
handful of coppers to the Negro boys, who dove for them
joyfully. The innocent squeals of the policemen as the
small blackamoors pinched them were irresistible. Unable
to resist them, Violet and I were soon pinching each other
till our skins glowed. Violet was good to the touch, with
a firm fleshy texture like a winesap or pippin. It seemed
but a moment before we were sliding under the porte-
cochere of her home, a magnificent rambling structure of
beaverboard patterned after an Italian ropewalk of the
sixteenth century. It had recently been remodeled by a
family of wrens who had introduced chewing-gum into
the left wing, and only three or four obscure Saxon words
could do it justice.
I was barely warming my hands in front of the fire and
watching Jimmy Fidler turn on a spit when my presence
on the Pacific Slope made itself felt The news of my
arrival had thrown international financial centers into an
uproar, and sheaves of wires, cables, phone messages, and
even corn began piling up. An ugly rumor that I might
reorganize the motion-picture industry was being bruited
about in the world's commodity markets. My brokers,
Whitelipped & Trembling, were beside themselves. The
New York Stock Exchange was begging them for assur-
ances of stability and Threadneedle Street awaited my
next move with drumming pulses. Film shares ricocheted
sharply, although wools and meats were sluggish, if not
downright sullen. To the reporters who flocked around
me I laughingly disclaimed that this was a business trip.
I was simply a scenario writer to whom the idea of work
was abhorrent. A few words murmured into the trans-
atlantic telephone, the lift of an eyebrow here, the shrug
of a shoulder there, and equilibrium was soon restored.
I washed sparsely, curled my mustache with a heated
hairpin, flicked a drop of Sheik Lure on my lapel, and
rejoined my hostess.
After a copious dinner, melting-eyed beauties in lacy
black underthings fought with each other to serve me
kiimmel. A hurried apology, and I was curled up in bed
with the Autumn, 1927, issue of The Yale Review. Half-
way through an exciting symposium on Sir Thomas Aqui-
nas' indebtedness to Professors Whitehead and Spengler,
I suddenly detected a stowaway blonde under the bed.
Turning a deaf ear to her heartrending entreaties and
burning glances, I sent her packing. Then I treated my
face to a feast of skin food, buried my head in the pillow
and went bye-bye.
— Ill —
Hollywood Boulevard! I rolled the rich syllables ove*
on my tongue and thirstily drank in the beauty of the
scene before me. On all sides nattily attired boulevardiers
clad in rich stuffs strolled nonchalantly, inhaling cubebs
and exchanging epigrams stolen from Martial and Wilde.
Thousands of scantily draped but none the less appetiz-
ing extra girls milled past me, their mouths a scarlet
wound and their eyes clearly defined in their faces. Their
voluptuous curves set my blood on fire, and as I made
my way down Mammary Lane, a strange thought began
to invade my brain: I realized that I had not eaten break-
fast yet. In a Chinese eatery cunningly built in the shape
of an old shoe I managed to assuage the inner man with
a chopped glove salad topped off with frosted cocoa.
Charming platinum-haired hostesses in red pajamas and
peaked caps added a note of color to the surroundings,
whilst a gypsy orchestra played selections from Victor
Herbert's operettas on musical saws. It was a bit of old
Vienna come to life, and the sun was a red ball in the
heavens before I realized with a start that I had promised
to report at the Plushnick Studios.
Commandeering a taxicab, I arrived at the studio just
in time to witness the impressive ceremony of changing
the guard. In the central parade ground, on a snowy
white charger, sat Max Plushnick, resplendent in a pro-
ducer's uniform, his chest glittering with first mortgage
liens, amortizations, and estoppels. His personal guard,
composed of picked vice-presidents of the Chase National
Bank, was drawn up stiffly about him in a hollow square.
But the occasion was not a happy one. A writer had been
caught trying to create an adult picture. The drums rolled
dismally, and the writer, his head sunk on his chest, was
led out amid a ghastly silence. With the aid of a small
stepladder Plushnick slid lightly from his steed. Sternly
he ripped the epaulets and buttons from the traitor's tunic,
broke his sword across his knee, and in a few harsh words
demoted him to the mail department.
"And now/' began Plushnick, "I further condemn you
to eat . . "
"No, no!" screamed the poor wretch, falling to his
knees and embracing Plushnick's jackboots, "not that,
"Stand up, man/' ordered Plushnick, his lip curling,
"I condemn you to eat in the studio restaurant for ten
days and may God have mercy on your soul." The awful
words rang out on the still evening air and even Plush-
nick's hardened old mercenaries shuddered. The heart-
rending cries of the unfortunate were drowned in the
boom of the sunset gun.
In the wardrobe department I was photographed, fin-
gerprinted, and measured for the smock and Windsor tie
which was to be my uniform. A nameless fear clutched
at my heart as two impassive turnkeys herded me down a
corridor to my supervisor's office. For what seemed hours
we waited in an anteroom. Then my serial number was
called, the leg-irons were struck off, and I was shoved
through a door into the presence of Diana ffrench-Ma-
How to describe what followed? Diana ff rench-Mamou^
lian was accustomed to having her way with writers, and
my long lashes and peachblow mouth seemed to whip
her to insensate desire. In vain, time and again, I tried to
bring her attention back to the story we were discussing,
only to find her gem-incrusted fingers straying through my
hair. When our interview was over, her cynical attempt
to "date me up" made every fiber of my being cry out in
"P-please," I stammered, my face burning, "I— I wish
you wouldn't. . . . Fm engaged to a Tri Kappa at
"Just one kiss," she pleaded, her breath hot against my
neck. In desperation I granted her boon, knowing full
well that my weak defences were crumbling before the
onslaught of this love tigree. Finally she allowed me to
leave, but only after I had promised to dine at her pent-
house apartment and have an intimate chat about the
script. The basket of slave bracelets and marzipan I found
awaiting me on my return home made me realize to what
lengths Diana would go.
I was radiant that night in blue velvet tails and a bou-
tonniere of diamonds from Carrier's, my eyes starry and
the merest hint of cologne at my ear-lobes. An inscrutable
Oriental served the Lucullan repast and my vis4-vis was
as effervescent as the wine.
"Have a bit of the wine, darling?" queried Diana solici-
tously, indicating the roast Long Island airplane with
applesauce. I tried to turn our conversation from the per-
sonal note, but Diana would have none of it. Soon we
were exchanging gay bantam over the mellow Vouvray,
laughing as we dipped fastidious fingers into the Crisco
parfait for which Diana was famous. Our meal finished,
we sauntered into the rumpus room and Diana turned on
the radio. With a savage snarl the radio turned on her
and we slid over the waxed floor in the intricate maze of
the jackdaw strut. Without quite knowing why, I found
myself hesitating before the plate of liqueur candies Diana
was pressing on me.
"I don't think I should-really, I'm a trifle faint-"
"Oh, come on," she urged masterfully. "After all, you're
old enough to be your father— I mean I'm old enough to
be my mother " She stuffed a brandy bonbon between
my clenched teeth. Before long I was eating them thirstily,
reeling about the room and shouting snatches of coarse
drunken doggerel. My brain was on fire, I tell you.
Through the haze I saw Diana ffrench-Mamoulian, her
nostrils dilated, groping for me. My scream of terror only
egged her on, overturning chairs and tables in her bestial
pursuit. With superhuman talons she tore off my collar
and suspenders. I sank to my knees, choked with sobs,
hanging on to my last shirt-stud like a drowning man. Her
Svengali eyes were slowly hypnotizing me; I fought like
a wounded bird— and then, blissful unconsciousness.
When I came to, the Oriental servant and Diana were
battling in the center of the floor. As I watched, Yen
Shee Gow drove a well-aimed blow to her mid-section,
following it with a right cross to the jaw. Diana staggered
and rolled under a table. Before my astonished eyes John
Chinaman stripped the mask from his face and revealed
the features of Blanche Almonds, a little seamstress I had
long wooed unsuccessfully in New York. Gently she
bathed my temples with Florida water and explained how
she had followed me, suspecting Diana ffrench-Mamou-
lian's intentions. I let her rain kisses over my face and lay
back in her arms as beaming Ivan tucked us in and cracked
his whip over the prancing bays. In a few seconds our sleigh
was skimming over the hard crust toward Port Arthur and
freedom, leaving Plushnick's discomfited officers gnashing
one another's teeth. The wintry Siberian moon glowed
over the tundras, drenching my hair with moonbeams for
Blanche to kiss away. And so, across the silvery steppes
amid the howling of wolves, we rode into a new destiny,
purified in the crucible that men call Hollywood.
P-S-S-T, PARTNER, YOUR
PERISTALSIS IS SHOWING
1 was strolling aimlessly down Fifth Avenue
the other afternoon when several dollars which had been
burning a hole in my pocket suddenly burst into flame
and I found myself in Brentano's. By the time my pants
had stopped smoldering I discovered I owned a profusely
illustrated set of Brantome's spicy "Lives of Fair and Gal-
lant Ladies/' a brass paper knife, and a weird pamphlet
called "Tobacco, the Weed That Made America Fa-
mous/' by H. C. Apgar, of Elizabeth, New Jersey. The
Brant6me I expect to dispose of at a profit; it just happens
I know a high-school boy who is majoring in eighteenth-
century court life. As for the paper knife, I may have a
use for that also. One of these evenings, preferably a dark,
overcast one, I am going out to Elizabeth, New Jersey,
press it against somebody's gullet, and recover the dollar
I paid for his pamphlet.
As I reconstruct it from the preface, Apgar broke with
all stimulants, but particularly tobacco, some eighteen
years ago, and since then has devoted his energy, of which
he seems to have a frightening amount, to inducing the
nation to follow his example. The response has been less
than overwhelming, to judge from the annual income of
George Washington Hill, but Apgar has gone on doggedly
issuing jeremiads against the weed and such minor stimu-
lants as chocolate, soda pop, and chewing gum, all of
which he regards as pernicious in varying degrees. He ex
amplifies the sinister effect of chewing gum, for instance,
with the case of "a woman troubled with a nervous twitch-
ing of the eyes, frightened at trivial noises, etc. Her trou-
ble was diagnosed as Neurosis. She discontinued the use
of gum and in six months her trouble was gone/' An
amazing cure, certainly, and one the American Psychiatric
Association will do well to ponder at its next caucus. If
Apgar's gloomy prognosis is correct, I fully expect to wind
up in a ragged shawl outside the corner candy store, tear*
fully imploring my twitching, over-stimulated young to
come home with me. Unfortunately, the author vitiates
the force of his crusade somewhat by lapsing mysteriously
into a long, wrangling denunciation of the Julian calen-
dar. I lost the thread and assumed he was referring to the
Julian Callender I used to know in Providence, a willowy
party who ran a tearoom named the Lighted Taper and
owned a first edition of "J ur g en -" Luckily, I discovered my
error just as I was sitting down to compose a pretty heated
answer to what I consider an unprovoked assault.
Though Apgar's philippic differs little from the usual
tract on the subject, it contains one feature of interest
to students of the theatre, to say nothing of anybody pos-
sessing a full complement of vital organs. This is a pur-
portedly comic dialogue between the brain and the stom-
ach, intended to dramatize the penalty of indiscriminate
eating and smoking. Like the true tyro, Apgar gives no
stage direction to indicate where the colloquy is taking
place, but I assume his players are standing before a
painted drop, with a fountain in the background and rows
of store fronts receding into the distance. There is prob-
ably a sidewalk clock on a standard marked "J- Weintraub,
Jeweler— Home of Friendly Credit/' the legend "Acme
Lunch, Open All Night" on one of the shop windows,
and a card on an easel reading "Brian BRAIN & Solly
STOMACH— Society's Favorite Funsters." And, since
Apgar is too preoccupied with moral fervor to characterize
his action, we shall have to imagine for ourselves what they
look like. The brain, I presume, is a fastidiously dressed
straight man on the order of Eugene Howard, in a double-
breasted jacket and straw hat, sporting a Malacca cane.
The stomach, by contrast, wears a paper dickey, pants
easily five sizes too large for him, a red putty nose, and
huge, floppy shoes. Undoubtedly both carry bladders, or
at least tambourines, with which they strike each other at
From its very first lines the skit betrays the poverty of
invention and shallow understanding of his puppets typi-
cal of a reformer turned playwright:
Brain: Now, you listen to me, Stomach. That last mess of
nourishment you sent up had nothing in it a dog could use.
Stomach: Well, how could I help it? I did the best I could
with the mess that was given me to digest, for your benefit.
How Apgar hoped to intrigue his audience with so
pedestrian and maladroit an opening baffles comprehen-
sion. There are any number of provocative gambits he
might have chosen. Brain and Stomach might hurry in
from opposite wings, collide in center-stage, and embark
on a noisy, good-humored argument in the manner of
Quirt and Flagg. Or they could be fishing for pennies
through a sidewalk grating when the shapely ankles of a
saucy midinette (played by Heart) twinkle by. Or Brain
can even fleece Stomach with a wallet stuffed with news-
paper, whereupon the two of them join forces to swindle
Liver, a humorous countryman with whiskers and port-
manteau. The possibilities are infinite, but Apgar, bent
double under a messianic complex, is hurrying to pile up
his indictment. You can almost see Brain's smirk as he
speaks his next line:
Brain: This man blames it all on you. He says you are always
asking for more material to digest and he cannot resist the
temptation to send it down to you. . . . This fellow is always
complaining about his success in life. . . . Why, this poor
sap has more alibis for his failures than the fellow who in-
vented the word.
Here are a couple of distinguished protagonists indeed
—two snarling, disgruntled loafers who have nothing bet-
ter to do than lean on their shovels and criticize theit
employer. The taunt 'This man blames it all on you" is
especially diabolic. Brain, with a perverse spitefulness
rivaling that of Bette Davis in her most poisonous roles,
is clearly trying to cause a rift between Stomach and the
boss, and succeeding famously, as witness Stomach's
Stomach: You thought that last load of nourishment was
bad, but wait until you get this one I am wrestling with now.
Somebody invited him out tonight to play cards. They had a
midnight "lunch" consisting of shrimp salad, mince pie cov-
ered with a thick creamy sauce, topped off with coffee strong
enough to float an egg— I believe they call this demi-tasse; just
a small cup of coffee to you and me. . . .
Brain: I thought something unusual was happening. I just
received the effects of some beer, highballs, plenty of ciga-
rettes, but no chewing tobacco. I wonder why he doesn't chew
Notice, if you please, how cunningly this precious pair
has created a portrait of the master as a slack-jawed im-
becile, snob, and glutton. With consummate carelessness.
Stomach observes that he attended a card game, a fact
Brain seems to be unaware of. The assumption, conse-
quently, is that this citizen leaves his brain at home when
he gambles—scarcely a type of appeal to the popular mind.
The sneering reference to "demi-tasse" implies further
that he is fast becoming too big for his breeches and that
homespun folks like Brain and Stomach refuse to be over-
awed by such Gallicisms. If anything, though, Brain is the
greater blackguard of the two, for his sniggering "I won-
der why he doesn't chew tobacco?" reveals him not only
as a sneak but a provocateur. He knows that a man in a
weakened condition, coping with a hangover and a belly-
ache, is open to any suggestion, no matter how desperate,
but, like Samson, Brain is ready to pull down the whole
human temple around him just for a laugh. Contempo-
rary literature may yield up a more fiendish example of the
will to self-destruction, but I doubt it.
Had Apgar motivated the action so that it built to a
climax in which the man discovered this perfidy, excori-
ated his worthless apprentices, and flung them out into
the night, he might have had an exciting, fast-moving
melodrama. Or, employing honest emotional values, he
could have constructed a situation whereby Brain and
Stomach, in a moving renunciation scene out of Tolstoy^
left to expiate their sins in the salt mines of Siberia. In-
stead, he permits his creatures to continue hurling cheap
gibes at the man who pays for their bread and butter and
closes on a note of defeatism and sabotage you would
expect of such fifth columnists:
Stomach: O.K., I'll take this matter up with him by pro-
ducing an awful pain or sickness, as I know of no other way of
appealing to him, but this won't do much good as he will drink
some "likker" or send down some pills which are sure to be
his old favorites— physic or aspirin.
Brain: O.K., Pal. Goodnight. See you in the morning with
If Apgar plans to trade on the current revival of interest
in vaudeville and divert a few dollars into his pocket with
this shoddy morality, he is reckoning without the public.
Theatregoers will never disgorge two-twenty to be told
their innards are spies, diversionists, and wreckers. Let him
scrap his absurd mixture of soapy evangelism and tawdry
cynicism; let him turn his hand to a gay. tuneful operetta
based on fun in the ductless glands or depicting the vis-
cera as jolly good fellows. And while he's at it, let him
enclose that long-overdue dollar to his friend and well-
wisher, S. J. Perelman.
A POX ON YOIL,
MINE GOODLY HOST
i A I ew nights ago I strolled into our Pompeian
living room in my stocking feet, bedad, with a cigar in my
mouth and a silk hat tilted back on my head, to find Mag-
gie, with osprey plumes in her hair and a new evening
cape, pulling on long white gloves. A little cluster of ex-
clamation points and planets formed over her head as she
"Aren't you dressed yet, you bonehead?" she thun-
dered. "Or were you sneaking down to Dinty Moore's
for corned beef and cabbage with those worthless cronies
of yours?" I soon banished the good woman's fears, and in
response to my queries she drew from her reticule an ad-
vertisement clipped from the Sun. It displayed photo-
graphs of George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart framed in
a family album over the legend "From Schrafft's Album
of Distinguished Guests. The parade of luminaries who
enjoy Schrafft's hearty dinners includes columnists, sports-
writers, stage and radio personalities, football coaches,
illustrators, producers. Adding to the glitter of this list are
the distinguished names of Kaufman and Hart, who have
written many a Broadway hit." Of course, nothing would
do but we must dine at Schrafft's that very evening and
mingle in the pageantry, so without further ado we set out.
Although it was not yet seven o'clock when our cab
pulled up in front of the Forty-third Street branch, a siz-
able crowd of autograph-seekers had assembled and were
eagerly scrutinizing each new arrival. A rapturous shout
went up as I descended. "Here comes dashing Brian
Aherne!" exulted a charming miss rushing forward. "Isn't
it sickening?" I murmured.into my wife's ear. "This hap-
pens everywhere— in stores, on buses—" "Yes, I know,"
she grated. "Everybody takes me for Olivia de Havilland.
Get out of the way, you donkey. Don't you see the man's
trying to get by?" To my surprise, I found myself brushed
aside by Brian Aherne, who must have been clinging to
the trunk rack. As I shouldered my way after him, curious
stares followed me. "That must be his bodyguard," com-
mented a fan. "That shrimp couldn't be a cat's body-
guard," sneered his neighbor. I looked the speaker full in
the eye. "That's for the cat to say," I riposted, and as the
bystanders roared, I stalked through the revolving doors,
conscious I had scored.
Buoyant the advertisement had been, but I was frankly
dazzled by the scene which confronted me. The foyer,
ablaze with lights, was peopled by personages of such dis-
tinction as few first nights attract. Diamonds of the finest
water gleamed at the throats of women whose beauty put
the»gems to shame, and if each was not escorted by a
veritable Adonis, he was at least a Greek. A hum of well-
bred conversation rose from the throng, punctuated now
and again by the click of expensive dentures. In one cor-
ner Nick Kenny, Jack Benny, James Rennie, Sonja Henie,
and E. R. Penney, the chain-store magnate, were gaily
comparing pocketbooks to see who had the most money,
and in another Jim Thorpe chatted with Jay Thorpe,
cheek by jowl with Walter Wanger and Percy Grainger.
Here Lou Little and Elmer Layden demonstrated a new
shift to a fascinated circle, while there Ann Corio demon-
strated still another to an even more spellbound circle.
Myron Selznick, Frank Orsatti, and Leland Hayward had
just planed in from the Coast to sign everyone to agency
contracts, and now, swept along by sheer momentum,
were busily signing each other. As far as the eye could see,
at tables in the background, gourmets were gorging them-
selves on chicken-giblet-and-cream-cheese sandwiches,
apple pandowdy, and orange snow. One fine old epicure,
who had ordered a sizzling platter without specifying what
food was to be on it, was nevertheless eating the platter
itself and smacking his lips noisily. Small wonder that
several world-famed illustrators, among them Henry Ra-
leigh, Norman Rockwell and Pruett Carter, had set up
easels and were limning the brilliant scene with swift
strokes. I was drinking in every detail of the shifting pano-
rama when a hostess well over nine feet tall, with ice
mantling her summit, waved me toward a door marked
"We— we just wanted the old-fashioned nut pudding
with ice-cream sauce, Ma'am," I stammered.
"That's up to the committee, Moozeer," she said
briskly. "If we let in every Tom, Dick and Harry who
wanted the old-fashioned nut pudding with ice-cream
sauce . . . Ah, good evening, Contessa! Back from Hobe
I entered a small room exquisitely furnished in Bieder-
meier and took my place in a short queue of applicants.
Most of them were obviously under tension, and the poor
wretch in front of me was a pitiable spectacle. His eyes
rolled wildly, tremors shook his frame, and it was appar-
ent he entertained small hope of meeting the rigorous
"What have Kaufman and Hart got that I haven't
got?" he demanded of me desperately. "I bought a house
in Bucks County and wrote two plays, both smash hits r
even if they didn't come to New York. Why, you ought
to see the reviews Tea and Strumpets and Once in a
Wifetime got in Syracuse!" I reassured him as best I
could, but his premonitions were well founded, for a few
moments later he was ignominiously dispatched to dine
at a cafeteria. I was shuffling forward to confront the tight-
lipped examiners when a scuffle broke out in the foyer and
Kaufman and Hart, bundled in astrakhan greatcoats and
their eyes flashing fire, were herded in unceremoniously.
"What is the meaning of this— this bestiality?" sput'
tered Hart. "How dare you bar us from this bourgeois
bistro? 7 '
"I've been thrown out of better restaurants than this!"
boomed Kaufman, rapidly naming several high-class res-
taurants from which he had been ejected. The chairman
of the board picked up a dossier and turned a cold smile
on the playwrights.
"Naturally, we regret any inconvenience to you gen-
tlemen," he said smoothly, "but our house rules are in-
flexible. You wrote a play called Lady in the Dark, did
you not, Mr. Hart?" Hart regarded him stonily. "Starring
Gertrude Lawrence, I believe?"
"Yes," snapped Hart, "and she's sitting right up at the
fountain this minute having a rum-and-butter-toffee sun^
dae with chopped pecans/'
"Why were we not shown the script of that play, Mr.
Hart?" The chairman's voice was silky with menace.
"Why was nobody in the Frank G. Shattuck organization
consulted regarding casting?"
"I— I meant to," quavered Hart. "I swear I did! I told
my secretary— I made a note—"
"Thought you'd smuggle it into town without us, did
you?" snarled the chairman. "Let 'em read the out-of-
town notices in Variety, eh?" A tide of crimson welled up
the alabaster column of Hart's neck, and he stood down-
cast, staring at his toecaps. Kaufman would fain have in-
terceded for his associate, but the chairman stopped him
with a curt gesture.
"Hamburg Heaven for thirty days," he barked. "Take
"Help, help!" screamed the luckless duo, abasing them-
selves. But no vestige of pity lurked in the chairman's
granite visage, and an instant later they were borne, kick-
ing and squealing, from the chamber by two brawny at-
And now little else remains to be told. How I managed
to elude my captors and steal the superb mocha cupcake
the natives call "The Star of Forty-third Street Between
Sixth Avenue and Broadway" must be left to another
chronicle. Suffice to say that whenever your mother and
I pass Schrafft's, she turns to me with a secret smile and
we continue right on up to Lindy's. We can still get in
there without a visa.
SLOW — DANGEROUS
Some years ago, about the time Clayton, Jack-
son, and Durante were twisting you around their little
finger at the Parody Club, there was a strange and shabby
clip joint around the corner on West Forty-ninth Street.
The patrons of this rookery were chiefly small, tight men
who were understood to be on the lam, and a few Fordham
undergraduates affecting an insolence found only at New
Haven. The floor show consisted of a couple of refugees
from the Orpheum circuit exchanging breezy cross-fire
and flailing each other into insensibility. There was noth-
ing at all exceptional about these two artists, but every
now and again, on alternate Tuesdays, the straight man
would pause in his routine and with studied ambiguity
deliver a remark to his partner which mysteriously elec-
trified a number of the customers. The expression ran,
"The stuff is here—and it's mellow/' Eventually one of
the illuminati, whose name oddly enough happened to
be Tony Illuminati, took pity on my bewilderment. He
explained that a fresh shipment of happy dust had just
arrived and might be purchased from the cigarette girl.
Well, the stuff is here again— and mellow it is indeed.
The editors of Vogue, ever quick to sniff out the trend
and interpret the mode, recently called in nine important
American industrial designers and asked them each to
create a dress for the Woman of the Future in the World
of Tomorrow. The boys spat on their hands— their own
hands, not those of the editors of Vogue— and leapt to
their T-squares. The results were run up by nine leading
New York shops, photographed by nine leading photog-
raphers named Anton Bruehl, and appear on nine pages
of the February issue. And in case you think there's noth-
ing to numerology, Mummy has had a simply blinding
headache for the past nine days.
After a hasty peek into their crystal ball, the designers
were unanimous in the opinion that the Girl of Tomorrow
would differ considerably from Miss 1943, who, it ap-
pears, is little better than a bundle of assorted neuroses,
bronchitis, and stocking runs. "Medical Science will have
made her body Perfect/' fluently reports Mr. Donald
Deskey. "She'll never know obesity, emaciation, colds in
the head, superfluous hair, or a bad complexion— thanks
to a controlled diet, controlled basal metabolism. Her
height will be increased, her eyelashes lengthened— with
some X-hormone." Lest this terrify you or remind you
of Mr. Max Beerbohm's description of posterity in Enoch
Soames (".'.. all of them smelling rather strongly of car-
bolic. And all of them quite hairless") , Mr. George Sakier
adds a reassuring note: "The woman of the future will
be tall and slim and lovely; she will be bred to it— for the
delectation of the community and her own happiness.
She will have a new freedom in time and space. She will
move in a world of vast horizons. Her viewpoint will be
clear and direct. She will be free from complexes and
inhibitions. Her clothes will be simple and free from fan-
tasy. She will take the miracles of science for granted, and
will not make a fetish of functional forms, or of design-
for-function." I breathed a little easier when I read that
Every time you ask your hostess at a party these days,
"Who is that tall girl in the corner with the enchanting
bosom?" you invariably get the careless reply, "Oh, that's
Liane. She makes a fetish of functional forms and de-
sign-for-function." And as if this weren't bad enough, it
always turns out Liane has a manic-depressive husband
who makes a fetish of hitting people who tickle his wife.
Given this superb chassis, the designers seem evenly
divided about upholstering it. Messrs. Teague, Sakier,
Deskey, and Dreyfuss feel that the maximum of it will be
put on display, and consequently package the Woman of
Tomorrow in transparent chiffon, glass yarn, and cello-
phane; Mr. Dreyfuss, who, I take it, is a more old-fash-
ioned type boy, favors a skin-tight black net, which was
good enough for my grandfather and is good enough for
me. "These materials," explains Mr. Teague of his fabrics
of the future, "will be of chemical origin, and many will
be either transparent or translucent, with an individual
life oi their own. 9 ' I hope this last phrase of Mr. Teague's
is purely figurative; offhand, the thought of clothes lead-
ing an existence independent of their owner is a little on
the spooky side. How are you going to remain cool and
poised on that future day when you demand hotly of your
wife, "Where in the hell are those pants I threw over
that chair last night?" only to get the answer, "Oh, they
went up to Pride's Crossing for the weekend with my
girdle. They'll be back Tuesday morning"?
The other camp among the designers—Messrs. Wrighfc y
Loewy, Arens, and Piatt— is much more inclined to stress
woman's age-old desire for fancy plumage. To this end
they wrap her in aluminum foil, woollens interwoven
with electric wire, and as yet undiscovered fabrics, to
quote Mr. Loewy, "of microscopic cellular construction,
made of a contracting and expanding fibre/' What is this
awful preoccupation with having your clothes twitch
around in a horrid little life of their own? Did I miss some-
thing? I have the strange feeling that I have been asleep
for twenty years and that everybody is jeering at my
unkempt hair and rusty fowling piece.
When it comes to Milady's accessories, there is no
holding back the boys; they just lay back on the hip and
puff till the bunk is blue with smoke. "She may wear in
her hair a headlight/' says Mr. Wright of his model in
evening dress, "an ornamental cylinder with a huge man-
made diamond electrically lighted." The least her escort
could do under the circumstances is carry an old-fashioned
stem-winding watch and whistle at the grade crossings.
Mr. Arens, dressing a hypothetical bride in glass, confines
her waist in a sequin belt, of which he says, "These sequins
are really 'Stimsonite' traffic reflectors of Lucite, made by
the Signal Service Corporation. They are warranted to
pick up and reflect the light from an automobile headlight
a mile distant/' which certainly ought to prove a boon
to the innumerable brides who are members of the United
States Army Signal Corps. Mr. Dreyfuss provides his miss
with a combination electric fan and vanity case, described
as follows: "Nothing coquettish about it, for it will get its
current by radio waves through the ether and will cool
this girl, as well as clip the noses of any unwelcome suitors,
The propeller-like blades, made of a transparent plastic,
will fold into the interior, which is commodious enough
to carry the eight million contraptions that crowd today's
purses. (It was executed by Volupte.)" I trust I do not
speak with bitterness, Mr. Dreyfuss, but to clothe a young
lady in skin-tight black net and then hand her a gadget
for clipping unwelcome suitors' noses is no way to creep
into my heart. It may be Volupte to you, but it's only
loose thinking to me.
Of the nine designers, only one, Mr. Gilbert Rohde,
thinks women's clothes good enough as they are, but he
believes men's clothes need radical revision. Mr. Rohde
envisions the man of the twenty-first century in a ski suit
knitted of a mixture of transparent synthetic yarn and
infinitely fine beryllium threads, whose color can be
changed by varying the plating of the beryllium copper
wire. "The gentleman, for example, may start to the office
in a rich gun-metal Solo-suit, drab in color, but scintillat-
ing with life. [There's that same dreadful insistence on
the material's moiling and churning.] In the afternoon,
there is a directors' meeting, so he changes to a deep ma-
roon; and for dinner, the change is made in a jiffy to tur-
quoise." On this man's head Mr. Rohde places an "An-
tenna Hat," rather similar in design to the coils of a copper
still: "It snatches radio and Omega waves out of the
ether— here, at last, is man's opportunity to escape from
the deadly monotony of the twentieth-century male hat."
The delightful prospect of having Guy Lombardo playing
about your head and ears is enough to stir the pulse of
the most apathetic. Mr. Man of Tomorrow will further
wear a modish surtout called the Plastivest, fashioned of
Plexiglas— two words, incidentally, which I will thank
Mr. Rohde to tow out to sea and burn at his earliest con-
venience. This appalling little vest is designed to contain
a two-way telephone, radio set, office equipment, and con-
trol switches for the air waves which heat and cool the
suit. The feet, presumably with streamlined bunions, are
to be encased in nothing more or less than congress gaiters
"with breather pores just large enough for air, but too
small for water"; and, finally, men will have returned to
wearing long hair and marcelled beards in the fashion of
Artaxerxes. "And perhaps we shall find a few platinum
blondes, too," murmurs Mr. Rohde engagingly.
For two days now I have been crouching in a corner of
this coal bin, enjoying a peace I never thought possible.
Of course, the grit gets in your teeth and there's a leak
in that pipe overhead, but on the other hand it's just a
trifle too dark for reading. Why, you couldn't even see
your hand before your face, particularly if it were holding
a copy of Vogue. And goodness knows, it'll be a long
time before it's steady enough for that.
FOOTNOTE ON THE
If you have been bothered with any mysterious
aches or pains this summer, Bellevue Hospital has been
going around the last few days cockily puffing out its chest
because it has acquired a new laboratory of tropical medi-
cine. Just drop down there and they will be glad to tell
you at a glance whether you are suffering from sprue, the
Delhi boil, Madura foot, Bilharzia and related fluke dis-
eases (Bilharzia is no fluke, let me tell you; there's nobody
to blame but yourself), the Peruvian wart, or any of the
various forms of pork trichinae. I am even thinking of
going down there myself for a little reupholstering. Mine
isn't exactly a physical thing, unless I caught something
from reading Alice Tisdale Hobart's books; it's more of
a Far Eastern mental complaint. I just can't seem to tell
those Chinese war lords apart.
The trouble started a long time ago when Chiang, the
Premier of China (have I made any mistakes so far?),
went over to borrow a cup of opium from Chang and
exchange gossip. Now, that shouldn't be hard: Chiang
went to chin with Chang. This Chang is "Young" Chang
and should not be confused with "Old" Chang, his father,
the one-time ruler of Manchuria. As soon as I found this
out, I started confusing them, and it didn't help any to
learn that "Young" Chang has two brothers of the same
name. One of them is this harum-scarum younger brother
whom the Chinese simply adore and call "that murtherin'
shpalpeen, wurra wurra." The other is a Communist and
lives in Moscow; his people distinguish him from his
brother as "Faith, that murtherin' Rooshian bhoyo."
Just when I had all this neatly pegged and was going
along leading a life of Buddhistic calm, contemplating
my navel, Chang decided to kidnap Chiang. What his
motive was I can't imagine, unless it was to confuse me
horribly. The paper I read it in unfortunately happened
to carry as well a publicity release about a new book called
'Tang and Yin/' At the close of business that day, the
old prickly sensation had returned and I found myself
bursting into tears over the most trivial matters. I spent
a white night trying to straighten myself out, but by morn-
ing all I managed to remember was that I had once seen
a film called "Chang" with a very cute monkey in it. I
had barely pinned on my pigtail and sat down to my
breakfast of steamed rice and bamboo shoots when a
woman representing herself as my wife lifted her head
from a theatrical magazine and asked me if I had ever
seen Delia Fox in "Wang/'
I slid out of my chair barking like a Pekingese and
mercifully fainted away.
It was touch and go with me for forty-eight hours, and
Fd like to take this opportunity of thanking my wife and
the three concubines for their unsparing devotion in my
behalf. Soon, however, the crisis was past, and then came
long, slow days of convalescence, with my collie bound-
ing beside me on the lawn and tugging at my parasol.
Good old Towser! Fd like to take this opportunity of
thanking him for his unsparing devotion. For it was on
Towser that the burden fell of dressing the children,
undressing the concubines, and eating my gruel, without
which I would have recovered in half the time.
As soon as my Number One boy spread word through
the concession that the foreign devil was well again, the
Chinese sprang to attention. "Young" Chang ("Old"
Chang's son, but not "Scalawag" Chang or "Red"
Chang) offered to return the Generalissimo (you'd bet^
ter hold onto the rails; Fm beginning to pitch slightly)
to Soong, who didn't give a hang but was only negotiating
for his sister (who is married to Chiang). At this point
two more generals, who had been waiting in the wings
until they heard my pulses begin to hammer, entered the
scene. Their names might just as easily have been Rosen-
crantz and Guildenstern, but no; they had to be named
Yang and Feng. Yang was a Chinese version of General
Jubal A. Early who hoped to highjack the whole enter-
prise; Feng, who is called "the Christian Marshal" (as
opposed to Feng, the Jewish Marshal, I guess), had no
real business there, but claimed the conductor had given
him a wrong transfer. Chang— no, Yang— -told Chiang-
wait a minute, Chiang told Yang that Feng, who is
Soong . . .
From now on everything is quicksand, and if it's all
right with you, I'll just sit here under this banyan tree and
read a nice, quiet book. I'm almost halfway through Jack
London's White Fang, but it isn't holding me. I may slip
around the corner to the movies— they have a very inter-
esting picture there, I understand. It's called The Gen-
eral Died at Dawn, about a Chinese war lord named
Yang. The only trouble is that Clifford Odets, who wrote
it, is keeping company with one Luise Rainer, and she
plays the lead in The Good Earth, which is about a char-
acter named Wang. And now they tell me Mr. Odets
is going to do a story for a producer named Wanger. For
goodness' sake, has everybody gone staik, staling Wang?
A scenario writer I know, who had been
working uninterruptedly in Hollywood for three years,
finally got back to New York for a two-week vacation. He
had barely unpacked his gold-backed military hairbrushes
and put on a red moire smoking jacket when a wire from
his agent ordered him back to the Coast for an assign-
ment. The young man preferred to stay, but his con-
science reminded him of the two hundred and fifty thou-
sand dollars in annuities he was carrying, and this in turn
summoned up a frightening picture of a destitute old age
when he might have to work on a newspaper again and
ride in streetcars. After wrestling with himself for sev^
eral hours, he decided to assert his independence. He
sent back a spunky wire to the effect that he was working
on a novel and could not return under any conditions
unless his salary was raised to seventeen hundred and
fifty dollars a week, instead of fifteen hundred. Then he
forgot all about it, except to lie awake three nights and
stay indoors waiting for the telephone to ring.
To nobody's surprise, the deal went through, and forty-
eight hours later the scenario writer was sitting in a pro-
ducer's office in Hollywood, a little worse for the plane
trip and a box of sodium Amytal tablets. In a few badly
chosen words the producer explained his predicament.
He had a terrific story; it smelled box office a mile away.
But every writer on the payroll had been stumped for the
last three months by one detail.
"Ill tell you the meat of the story/' said the producer.
'It's got plenty of spontinuity when you maul it over
in your mind, only just this one little thing you got to
"Give," murmured the scenario writer, closing his
eyes to indicate that his faculties were purring like a
"We fade in on a street in London/' began the pro-
ducer, fading in on a street in London. "It's about four
o'clock in the morning and I see a guy dressed in rags
dragging himself along through the fog, a Lon Chaney
type guy. He's all twisted and crippled up. Voom! All
of a sudden he ducks down an areaway and knocks on a
door. It opens and I see a gorgeous hallway with Chinese
rugs and Ming vases. We hold the camera on it and milk
whatever we can from the scene. The minute the guy's
mside, he straightens up, takes off this harness, and unties
his leg. What I mean is, the guy's as normal as you or
me. Any audience'll buy that— am I right? Then we truck
with him through a door and he's in like a hospital cor-
ridor. He pulls on rubber gloves and an operating
"Wait a minute," the writer interrupted, rising. "Am I
supposed to spot laughs in this?"
"Siddown," commanded the producer. "There's a mil-
lion opportunities for good crazy dialogue later on. We
wipe the guy into an operating room and pan around.
He's got ten, fifteen beautiful dames chained to the walls
with practically nothing on, and if that don't kill 'em, I
don't know show business. The legal department's taking
it up with the Hays office this afternoon. We follow the
guy over to a bench that's full of test tubes and scientific
stuff; he pours one test tube into another and hollers, 1
got it! The life secret I been hunting for years!' Mind
you, this ain't dialogue— I'm just spitballing. So then he
puts a little of this life secret in a hypodermic needle and
rings a gong. These two assistants wheel in a table with our
leading woman on it, out like a light. Our guy rubs his
hands and laughs like a hyena. He picks up the hypo,
bends over our girl, and that's where you got to figure out
this one thing/'
"What's that?" the writer inquired suspiciously. The
producer bit the end off a manufacturer's size Corona,
frustration in his eyes, and shook his head.
"What kind of a business is this guy in?" he asked help
/If you are inclined to brood easily, I can guarantee that
this question will tease you to the brink of hysteria. It
obsessed me almost constantly until I stumbled across
what may very well be the answer. It is contained in a
little 1 34-page brochure entitled Cosmetic Surgery, by
Charles C. Miller, M.D., published by the author in
1907. Since that day several weeks ago when I first peeped
into this attractive volume, bound in red sharkskin, I have
been confined to my rooms in the Albany with a fairly
constant attack of the rams. As if Dr. Miller's prose style
were not sufficiently graphic, the text is supplemented
with half a dozen photographs and a score of drawings
calculated to make your scalp tingle. I am no sissy, but I
will risk a sporting flutter of half a guinea that even the
brothers Mayo would have flinched under Cosmetic
'The author starts off casually enough with instructions
for correcting outstanding ears, which range all the way
from tying them flat to the head to some pretty violent
surgery. Personally, I have found that a short length of
three-quarter-inch Manila hemp bound stoutly about the
head, the knot protruding below one's felt hat, adds a
rakish twist to the features and effectively prisons ears
inclined to flap in the wind. A salty dash may be im-
parted to the ensemble by dipping the rope in tar, or even
substituting oakum for hemp.
I must confess that the chapter headed "Nose with the
Bulbous Tip/' on page 50, fired my blood, and I read
three or four pages avidly waiting for the appearance of
Hercule Poirot or even Inspector Lestrade before I dis-
covered that no crime had been committed. But on page
79, just as I finished yawning through some hints on
diminishing the unduly large mouth by hemstitching it at
the corners, Dr. Miller plucked the roses from my cheeks
with "Marginal Tattooing as a Means of Adding to the
Apparent Width of the Lips/' That may not be your idea
of a punchy title for the marquee of a theatre, but if Boris
Karloff were in it, you'd pay your six-sixty fast enough.
Living as I do on the hem of the wilderness, I was not
aware that "tattooing about the margin of the lips to
overcome undue thinness" had become a commonplace.
The technique is as follows: "The skin is punctured or
pricked open with a needle. The puncturing does not
extend through the skin, but merely into the true skin
[Come, come, Doctor, let's not quibble.] After the punc
tures have been made, the coloring is rubbed in with the
point of the needle or with a slightly flattened spud. Some
reaction may be expected to follow the operation, but
healing is complete in a few days." Why any reaction
save boredom should follow rubbing a patient's lips with
a potato is not clear to me, but I suppose that if one were
allergic to potatoes, one might become restless under the
massage. Speaking for myself, I have always been very
partial to potatoes, especially those of the cottage-fried
It is on page 92, with "The Formation of the Dimple/'
that Dr. Miller really removes the buttons from the foils
"It is my practice in these cases," he states, "to thoroughly
scrub the cheek, and then, after having the patient smile,
select the point where a dimple should form under ordi-
nary circumstances. ... I mark this point, and insert my
hypodermic needle." The operative method from now on
is strikingly similar to fishing for perch through a hole in
the ice. The Doctor lowers a line with a bobber and a bit
of red flannel, builds a fire on the patient's forehead, and
sits down to warm his hands till a dimple is hooked. The
patient lies there softly whimpering, "I didn't have
enough trouble, I had to have dimples like Robert Taylor
yet!" And there let us leave them in the softly flickering
firelight, with the thought that it will flicker much better
if you pile on an occasional page out of Cosmetic Surgery,
by Charles C. Miller.
The other night a forty-five-year-old friend of
mine, after ingesting equal portions of Greek fire and
artillery punch, set out to prove that he could walk across
a parquet flooring on his hands while balancing a vase on
his head. As a consequence, about eleven o'clock the fol-
lowing morning he was being trepanned at the Harkness
Pavilion and I was purchasing a bottle of Major's Cement.
I had reassembled the shards and was about to uncork the
cement bottle when the bold yellow leaflet in which it
was wrapped caught my eye. To predict that this small
circular will eventually outrank Magna Carta and the
Peace of Breda in historical significance may seem auda-
cious. Yet even the most frivolous cannot escape its
implications, for in a single decisive stroke it alters the
entire status of the consumer.
From its opening sentence, the document was marked
by a note of brooding, reminiscent of a manifesto:
If we could make the cement in liquid form and transparent,
and at the same time as strong and as proof against moisture as
it is now, we would be glad to do so. But this cannot be done.
A dozen lines further on, the manufacturer was fretting
again over the possible imputation that he was holding
back on his product:
If we could make a cement transparent and in liquid form
as strong as the way we make our cement, we would do it
There is no material that you could use that would make
cement that way.
Obviously an idee fixe, I thought to myself, but aloud, I
merely said quietly, "All right now, I can hear you. I use
Leonard's Ear Oil as well as Major's Cement." My witty
reprimand fell among thorns; a moment later the circular
was behaving like a regular ogre:
If you do not succeed the first time in mending an article,
do not throw up your hands and go pulling your hair and yell
out "I have been swindled once more"; but have patience, for
the Cement is all right.
By now I was thoroughly nettled. Patience, eh? Look
who's telling me to have patience. Why, I've got more
patience in my little fing— but my words were blotted out
in a last echoing apoplectic bellow:
If, before doing as suggested, you tell others that the
Cement is no good, you are saying an untruth and injuring the
reputation of Major's Cement. Remember the Golden Rule,
"Do unto others as you would be done by."
Since I long ago gave instructions to strew my ashes to
the four winds when the hour sounds, this precept left
me with only one course open, and I took it.
It is obvious that such a volte-face in sales technique is
fraught with the most far-reaching implications. There is
every chance that Major's plaintive exasperation with the
customer may yet be adopted and distorted by other firms.
I take the liberty of presenting a few glamorous possi-
bilities in a curtain-raiser, with the hope that it may
inspire some fellow-dramatist to attempt a more sus-
(Scene: The men's furnishing section of a large depart-
ment store. As the cuitain rises, a salesman, Axel Munthe,
is waiting on a patron. Munthe is not related to the physi-
cian who wrote 'The Story of San Michele"; it is simply
an interesting coincidence. Enter Leonard DeVilbiss, a
typical customer— in fact, a luggage tag reading "Mr. Aver-
age Consumer 79 depends from the skirt of his topcoat
He looks timidly at Munthe.)
DeVilbiss— Do you sell Mackinaws here?
Munthe— No, we give 'em away. That's how we stay in
business— giving away free Mackinaws.
DeVilbiss— I don't see any around here.
Munthe— What the devil do you think those are hang-
ing on the rack— flounders?
(DeVilbiss meekly takes a seat and, picking up copies of
"Click" "Pic" and "Look" begins to hold the pages
against the light to discover possible salacious effects.)
Patron (uncertainly)— I don't know about these
shorts. I had in mind something with a banjo seat.
Munthe— Banjo seat! Banjo seat! Why don't you wear
a banjo and be done with it?
Patron— These won't shrink, will they?
Munthe— Look— Boulder Dam shrank six inches last
year. You want me to underwrite a pair of lousy ninety-
eight-cent shorts against it?
Patron— Hmm. Well, I think I'll look around.
Munthe— Not in here, you won't. If you want to
browse, go to a bookstore. (Patron exits; Munthe ap-
proaches DeVilbiss) All right, Buster, break it up. You're
not in your club.
DeVilbiss— I'd like to try on some Mackinaws.
Munthe (suspiciously)— Got any money?
DeVilbiss— Yes, sir. (He shows Munthe some money*
Latter reluctantly pulls out rack.)
Munthe— Now, let me see. You want something in
imported camel's hair, fleece-lined, with a life-time guar-
antee, for only five dollars?
DeVilbiss ( dazzled ) —Sure.
Munthe— That's what I thought. They all do. Well,
cookie, you're in the wrong pew.
DeVilbiss (humbly)— Haven't you any shoddy old
blue plaid ones with leatheroid buttons for about fifty
Munthe— To fit a little shrimp like you?
DeVilbiss (submissively)— It don't have to fit me.
Munthe (bridling)— Oh, you're not going to wear it 9
hey? Just one of those sneaking comparison shoppen,
DeVilbiss— No, no— I thought for carrying out the
ashes— you know, around the cellar.
Munthe (loftily)— You must be a pretty small-time
lug to carry out your own ashes.
DeVilbiss— I am.
Munthe (grudgingly)— Well, all right. Slip this on
DeVilbiss (after a struggle) —It binds me a little under
Munthe— -You're damn right it does. If we knew how
to lick that, we'd all be in clover.
DeVilbiss— Could you— I mean, maybe if a seam was
let out— that is, the sleeve—
Munthe (infuriated)— See here, chump, if you think
I'm going to rebuild a measly fifty-dollar Mackinaw for
every stumblebum who mooches in off the street—
DeVilbiss— Oh, no. I wouldn't dream of asking you!
I— I was just wondering whether Alberta— that's Mrs.
DeVilbiss; she's a regular whiz at things like that— and
time, say, she's got all the time in the world—
Munthe— O.K., come on. Do you want it or don't you?
DeVilbiss— You bet your life I do! Does— er— does this
model come with pockets?
Munthe— Yes, and we throw in two tickets to a musical
and dinner at Voisin's. (Shouting) What the hell do you
think we're running here, a raffle?
DeVilbiss— Gee, you got me wrong. I wouldn't want
anything I wasn't entitled to, honest!
Munthe— Next thing I know you'll be chiseling me
out of paper and string to carry it home.
DeVilbiss— My goodness, no! I'll put it right over my
arm— it's no trouble, really!
Munthe (taking money from DeVilbiss)— Say, if I'd
known you had nothing but twenties—
DeVilbiss— Gosh, never mind the change— that's quite
all right. Thank you very much.
Munthe— Now, listen, chum, watch your step. If I hear
any squawk out of you about our merchandise, I'll cool
you off fast enough.
(DeVilbiss exits hurriedly. A moment later Lin Yutang,
the Eoorwalker— also no relation to the author of "The
Story of San Michele"— enters.)
Yutang (glowering)— Look here, Munthe, was that a
customer I just saw coming out of this section?
Munthe (quickly)— Of course not, sir. It was only a
Yutang— All right, then, but don't let me catch you
selling anything around here. You know the policy of this
store. Carry on!
(Munthe returns his salute and, picking up a bottle
of acid, begins to dump it over the goods as Yutang, arms
folded, watches him approvingly.)
THE LOVE »ECOY
A Story of Youth in College Today— Awake,
**Pr©fess©r Gompers is ill!" The
whisper spread like wildfire through the packed class-
room. A feeling of emulsion swept over me. Kindly old
Professor Gompers, whose grizzled chin and chiselled
£rin had made his name a byword at Tunafish College
for Women! Ivy Niidnick, sauciest co-ed in the class, she
of the unruly locks and the candied gray eyes, leaned over
to impart the latest gossip.
"That new instructor, Russell Gipf, is subbing for
nim!" The color drained slowly from my face, entered
the auricle, shot up the escalator, and issued from the
ladies' and misses* section into the housewares depart-
ment. I remembered Russell Gipf as a lean brown giant
in tweeds whose resemblance to Warren William had
caused his suspension the year before. It had been an
ugly scandal but luckily his nose was broken in an
accident soon after and the faculty had restored him.
Dreamily I recalled an autumn afternoon when I had
visited him in his office in ivy-colored Schneider to dis-
cuss a theme I had written. Through the half-open win-
dows drifted the mingled smell of wood smoke and fresh-
men. He confided that he was doing research in dirty
limericks for his doctor's thesis and asked if I knew any
"Good Ones." In the twinkling of an eye we were in the
gutter. At no time, however, did he allow himself the
usual indecent proposal, and I returned to my dormitory
room raging, determined never to see him again.
An impatient voice summoned me rudely from my
daydream. I looked up; Russell Gipf was addressing me
crisply from the platform. My feminine eye noted that
he was still a spiffy dresser, a regular up-to-the-minute
"Will you please answer the question, Miss Horn-
"I— I didn't hear it," I quavered.
"Well, Miss 'Lame Brain'," he retorted sardonically,
"maybe you had better stop galvanizing around nights
and pay attention!" A cold fury welled up in me and I
longed to hang one on his lug for his insolence. I was
seething but he could not see it, for several of my girl
chums were seething in front of me. A moment later the
bell tolling in ivy-covered Hoffenstein brought the class
to a close. Slipping my pencil box and pen wipers into my
corsage I approached his desk, a plan fermenting in my
"Yes, Miss Hornbostel?" Russell Gipf's eyes were
dancing with fun.
"Oh, Mr. Gipf," I began, "I hardly know how to say
this. It— it's so personal." His eyes stopped dancing with
fun and began dancing with sex.
"Go on," he urged.
"I— I can't get the cap off my toothpaste," I faltered, a
tear trembling on my nose. "If you could only help me
. . ." I gazed out of my huge bedroom eyes appealingly.
"Well, now—ahem— this is serious," he said slowly.
"No wonder you weren't prepared in class just now.
Naturally, you were upset."
"And you were cruel/' I said.
"I'm sorry/' he added Quigley.
"Why did you add Quigley?" I begged him. He apolo-
gized and subtracted Quigley, then divided Hogan. We
hastily dipped the slices of Hogan into Karo, poured
sugar over them, and ate them with relish.
"Tell me/' said Gipf, as he wiped his mouth on the
tail of his shirt, "about this toothpaste: if you could bring
the tube to my office . . ."
I explained hurriedly that it was too heavy to carry and
that he would have to come up to my dormitory room
that evening after "lights out." He readily fell in with my
wish and promised. As we walked across the campus
toward ivy-covered Lapidus, I drew him out craftily. He
had been in the north of Scotland that summer shooting
bob-tail flushes, and he was full of his subject. Although
I hated him, I had to confess that his smile made my
pulses sing, and I gladly would have leaped through a
hoop had he asked me to. He must have been aware of it,
for he suddenly reached into his green baize bag and pro-
duced a hoop.
"Here, leap through this hoop, you/' he ordered. I did
so and he flicked me lightly with his whip. I saw his face
go dark with passion. "Dolores—I love you!" he whis-
pered, his hand closing over mine. Mine in turn closed
over his. In an instant we had chosen up sides, it was my
turn at bats, and I knocked a sizzling bunt to Pipgrass in
"Ah, cara mia, giz a kiz," panted Russell. I tried to resist
his overtures, but he plied me with symphonies, quartets,
chamber music and cantatas. I felt myself softening, but
I was determined to go through with my plan.
"Are you mad, Russell?" I stopped him haughtily. He
bit his lip in a manner which immediately awakened my
maternal sympathy, and I helped him bite it. Foolish
man! In a trice the animal in him rose to the surface again.
He caught my arm in a vice-like grip and drew me to him,
but with a blow I sent him groveling. In ten minutes he
was back with a basket of appetizing fresh-picked grovels.
We squeezed them and drank the piquant juice thirstily.
Then I blew him an airy kiss.
"Tonight— at ten-thirty, man d6sii!" I flung at him
over my shoulder. Even in my room I could hear him
panting four floors below on the campus as I changed to
a filmy negligee and began to cold-cream my glowing
The dim glow of shaded lamps and the heady intoxi-
cation of incense had transformed my room into a veri-
table Oriental bower when Russell Gipf knocked cau-
tiously on my door at ten-thirty. From the ostermoor
where I was stretched out lazily, I murmured an inviting
"Come in!" I murmured invitingly. He entered shaking
himself vigorously. There had been a heavy fall of talcum
several hours before and as far as the ground could see
the eye was white. I offered Russell a dish of soap flakes,
but despite my attempts to put him at his ease he seemed
"The— the toothpaste," he began, looking about suspi-
ciously. I indicated the bathroom with a lazy finger. In a
moment he reappeared, his face haggard and his eyes
like burning holes in the snow.
"Yes," I shot at him coldly, "I tricked you. No, it's
useless to try the door— and it's a four-story drop straight
down from those windows, Mr. Russell Gipf. Perhaps
you're wondering what I intend to do now/' I picked up
the telephone, my voice a snarl. "In five minutes the
faculty will break in and find you in a co-ed's room. What
will your wealthy old father Prosper Gipf, president of
the Absconders' and Defaulters' National Bank, say to
that?" He backed away from me whimpering piteously.
But I was goading him on as only a raging woman can.
"You humiliated me in front of all my classmates today.
Now— you shall pay." My hand was lifting the receiver
when a faint scratching sounded at the door, followed by
stertorous breathing. I threw it open. Dean Fothergill, his
face that of a man mad with desire, lunged at me.
"Dolores," he implored, "you adorable little witch—
I've been following you with my eyes— I . . ."
"You rotter!" I turned in surprise at Russell Gipf's
voice as he flashed past me and drove a decisive blow into
the aged roue's kidneys. The two men grappled, their
teeth bared. Russell's head snapped back as Dean Fother-
gill, who I forgot to say was once amateur light-heavy-
weight boxing champion of University of California at
Los Angeles, drove a decisive blow to the Gipf kidneys.
The noise of fist on kidneys rang out in the still air. I
watched the spectacle unmoved. After all, tomorrow I
would have to pass my law exam; I opened Fist on Kidneys
and was deep in it when I heard a groan. I looked up,,
There, manacled to Russell Gipf, stood Dean Fothergill,
a hangdog expression on his face.
"Well, Miss Hornbostel," he admitted shamefacedly,
"I guess the jig is up."
'Tell her, you swine!" grunted Russell menacingly,
pounding his windward kidney.
"I— I am Jim the Penman/' said Fothergill with bowed
head. "I forged the notes which sent your father, Harry
Trefusis, to the cooler."
'Then you are Donald Fenstermacher, Russell?" I
queried, dazed. He put his strong young arms about me
and nodded shyly,
"Now may I ask you that question?" he blushed.
"Yes, Donald," I told him, hiding my scarlet face in
his shoulder. Outside, the insupportable sweetness of a
guitar cleft the warm summer air and bewhiskered,
beflanneled, bejasused and bejabered undergraduates
strolled under the hoary elms. The Splendid Wayfarer
had come home.
PERCHANCE TO STEAM
i To anybody around here who is suffering
from a touch of insomnia these days (surely no more
tkan a hundred-to-one shot), the sequence of events in
my bedroom last night may have a certain clinical interest.
About nine o'clock, after a brisk session with the news-
casters, I shuddered for approximately half an hour to
relax my nerves, plugged a pair of Flents into my ears,
and tied on a sleep mask. I probably should have waited
until I got into bed before doing so, as I took a rather
nasty fall over a waste-basket, but in a few moments I
was stretched out, busily reviewing the war news and
adding up the family bank account, with my pulse fur-
nishing a rich musical background. When this palled, I
read several chapters of Durfee's "Monasteries of the
Rhone" with no success whatever until I discovered I
had forgotten to remove my mask. As soon as I did, i
Was amply rewarded, for I found that with a little practice
I was able to handle the strategy of the war and add up
my bank account while vagabonding down the Rhone.
At this point, I regret to say, I tarnished an otherwise
perfect record by falling into a slight doze. I must have
been asleep almost fifteen minutes when I awoke sud-
denly and realized I had neglected to take a sedative
before retiring. I promptly went out into the kitchen for
a cup of hot milk with which to dissolve the nepenthe tab-
let and found Delia, our buxom cook, seated on the knee
of her policeman friend. Actually, we have no cook called
Delia, but we do have an impassive Englishman named
Crichton and he was seated on the knee of a police-
woman. The general effect was the same: a scene of
coarse, steamy intimacy rivalling Hogarth's "Gin Lane."
Muttering "This rivals Hogarth's 'Gin Lane'," I stalked
back to bed just in time to discover that the annual outing
of the Clan-na-Gael was beginning directly beneath my
window. Egged on by shrill cries of approval from the
ladies' auxiliary, strapping bosthoons executed nimble jigs
and reels, sang come-all-ye's, and vied with each other in
hurling refuse cans the length of the street. The gaiety
was so spontaneous and impulsive that I could not refrain
from distributing several bags of water as favors. The
gesture moved the crowd deeply, a few of its members
even offering to come up and include me in their horse-
play. Unfortunately, my good-natured refusal caused con-
siderable pique and the revellers disbanded shortly. The
sky and I were turning gray when, without any preamble,
a woman in the apartment directly overhead began beat-
ing her husband mercilessly. Unable to withstand his
screams, I finally gathered up all the available bedding,
wrapped my head in it, and lay in a cedar chest in the
foyer until routed out by the odor of coffee.
It is the notion of the General Electric Company, as set
forth in a booklet I picked up at Lewis & Congers's Sleep
Shop later in the morning, that this sordid series of events
need never have occurred had I only been equipped with
a recent discovery of theirs. Some anonymous genius in
Schenectady (who will yet turn out to be Paul Muni,
mark my words) has conjured up from his alembics and
retorts an electrical comforter known as "The Blanket
with a Brain." Just how General Electric came to be
mixed up in blanket research is not too clear; perhaps it
was one of those accidents we know take place daily in
laboratories. I can readily imagine some brilliant young
chemist bursting into the office of the head of the division,
exultantly waving an Erlenmeyer flask. "What's cooking,
Shaftoe— I mean Muni?" inquires his chief irritably. "An-
other one of those impractical daydreams of yours?"
"N-n-no, sir," stammers Shaftoe in his excitement. "Do
you recall that precipitate of blanketane, comf ortate cellu-
lose, and old voltage I left on my bench last night?" "Yes,
it was the seven-hundred-and-forty-fifth combination you
and Bazurdjian had tried, and although all the others
failed, you doggedly persisted, scorning the mockery of
older and wiser heads," replies the chief. "Look here, sir!"
cries Shaftoe, holding the flask up to the light. "My God!"
exclaims his usually imperturbable senior. "A little elec-
trical quilt! Imperfect, incomplete, picayune, but still a
quilt! What formula did you use, my boy?" "A very old
one, sir," says Shaftoe quietly. "One part inspiration and
ten of perspiration." "Success hasn't changed you, Shaf-
toe," observes the chief. "You're still a drip." And, pocket-
ing the discovery, he kicks Shaftoe out into the corridor.
Outwardly, the G. E. Electric Comforter is a simple
wool-and-taffeta affair which runs on the house current
and automatically adjusts itself to the changing tempera-
tures of the night. What emerges from a study of the
booklet, however, is a weird complex of thermostats,
transformers, and control boxes likely to frighten the puta-
tive customer out of his pants. "The heart of the Com-
forter/' states the booklet, "is a web of 370 feet of fine
flexible copper wire of low resistance arranged in a zig^
zag pattern/' Set me down as a dusty old eccentric, but
frankly, there would seem to be some more ideal haven
nowadays than a skein of copper wire, no matter how fine
or flexible. Nor is it any more reassuring to learn that
"six rubber molded safety thermostats are placed at
intervals in this web of insulated wire (you can feel these
thermostats with your fingers beneath the cover of the
Comforter)/' It needs no vivid imagination to imagine
oneself lying in the dark with eyes protruding, endlessly
tallying the thermostats and expecting at any moment
to be converted into roast Long Island duckling. The
possibility is evidently far from academic, to judge from
the question a little later on: "Can the Comforter over-
heat or give an electric shock?" The manufacturers shrug
aside the contingency in a breezy 450-word essay, easily
comprehensible to wizards like Steinmetz but unhappily
just out of my reach. One passage, nevertheless, is all too
Even if the full 115 volts went through the Comforter, the
body would have to be moist ... a worn spot on the web
wire inside the Comforter would have to touch the body . . .
and another part of the body, as a hand or leg, would have to
come in contact with a piece of metal, in order to get the sensa*
tion of an electric shock.
Given half a chance, I know I could fulfill these condi-
tions, difficult though they seem. As one who puts on
a pair of rubbers when he changes a fuse, only to find
himself recumbent on the floor with his eyelashes singed,
I'll go further. I bet I could pass through a room contain-
ing an Electric Comforter in the original gift box and
emerge with a third-degree burn.
The balance of the booklet, to tell the truth, held for
me a purely formal interest, as I had already reached a
decision regarding the Comforter. Such questions as
"What causes the slight clicking noise in the control
box?" are obviously intended to relieve the fears of neu-
rotics, and, thank God, I'm no neurotic. All I know is,
when I got that far I heard a slight clicking noise and
experienced a distinct tingling sensation which could only
have emanated from the booklet itself. Luckily, I had the
presence of mind to plunge it into a pail of water and yell
for help. Right now it's over at some expert's office, about
to be analyzed. And so am I, honey, if I can lay my hands
on a good five-cent psychiatrist.
DOWN WITH THE
i Does anybody here mind if I make a prediction?
I haven't made a prediction since the opening night of
The Women some years ago, when I rose at the end of
the third act and announced to my escort, a Miss Chicken-
Licken, "The public will never take this to its bosom/'
Since the public has practically worn its bosom to a nub-
bin niggling up to The Women, I feel that my predic-
tions may be a straw to show the direction the wind is
blowing away from. I may very well open up a cave and
do business as a sort of Cumaean Sibyl in reverse. You
can't tell me people would rather climb up that Aventine
Hill and have a man mess around with the entrails of a
lot of sacred chickens when they can come down into
my nice cool cave and get a good hygienic prediction foi
a few cents. So just to stimulate trade and start the ball
rolling, here goes my first prediction: One of these days
two young people are going to stumble across a ruined
farmhouse and leave it alone. . . . Well, what are you
sitting there gaping at? You heard what I said. That's my
Honest Injun, I hate to sound crotchety, and the last
thing in the world I want to do is throw the editors of all
those home-making magazines like Nook and Garden
and The American Home-Owner into an uproar, but the
plain fact is that I've got a bellyful. For over two years*
now, every time I start leafing through one of those excel-
lent periodicals, I fall afoul of another article about a
couple of young people who stumble across a ruined farm-
house and remodel it on what is inelegantly termed spit
and coupons. Or maybe it's the same article. I couldn't
be reading the same issue over and over, could I?
All these remodelling articles are written by the re-
modellers themselves and never by the ruined farmer or
the man who didn't get paid for the plastering, which
accounts for their rather smug tone. They invariably fol-
low the same pattern. A young couple named Mibs and
Evan (and if you checked up, I'll bet they were never
married at all/) have decided to return to the land. I see
Mibs as one of those girls on the short side, with stocky
legs, a low-slung posterior, and an untidy bun of straw-
colored hair continually unwinding on the nape of her
neck. Before anyone ever heard of Salzburg, she wore a
high-bodiced dress with full skirts, a sort of horrid super-
dirndl with home-cooked hems that have a tendency to
hang down in back. She is usually engaged in reading a
book written by two unfrocked chemists which tells
women how to make their own cold cream by mixing a
little potash with a dram of glycerine and a few cloves.
Evan is a full-haunched young man in a fuzzy woollen
suit (I don't suppose there's any such thing as a fuzzy
cotton suit, but you know what I mean) who is forever
rubbing a briar pipe along his nose to show you the beauty
of the grain. He smokes his own mixture of perique,
Latakia, and Imperial Cube Cut, for the very good reason
that nobody else will smoke it, and he has probably read
more of Arthur Machen than any man alive.
Well, as I say, your average remodelling yarn begins
with Mibs and Evan stumbling across the most adorable
ruin of an eighteenth-century farmhouse. It doesn't have
to be a farmhouse; it can be a gristmill, or a tobacco
barn, or a Mennonite schoolhouse. It can even be an
early Colonial hen house, with delightful hand-hewn
beams and perfectly sweet old tar paper scaling off the
sides. Apparently nobody previous to Mibs and Evan has
realized its possibilities, but Evan takes one look at it
and says in a guarded tone, 'Two hundred dollars would
restore that beautifully if you didn't go crazy putting in
a lot of bathrooms you didn't need." "Oh, Evanf f
breathes Mibs, her eyes shining above her adenoids and
her brain reeling with visions of Cape Cod spatter floors,
"Dare we . . . ?" That night, at dinner in the Jumble
Shop, they put their heads together— Evan removes the
pipe from alongside his nose, of course— and decide to
jump at the chance. It involves giving up that trip to
Europe, a choice the characters in these stories always
have to make, but Mibs has always dreamed of a sunny
garden filled with oid-fashioned flowers of the type her
mother used to read about in Max Schling's catalogue.
So they bravely draw two hundred dollars out of their little
hoard, leaving a hundred in case they ever want to take a
really long trip to some place like Bali, and lay it on the
After considerable excitement, in which everybody
searches the title like mad and Mibs discovers the quaint-
est old parchment deed describing their land in terms of
rods, chains, and poods, they are ready to take the "Be-
fore" snapshots. Evan digs up one of the cameras used
by Brady at the battle of Antietam, waits for a good cloudy
day, and focuses across a mound of guano at the most
ramshackle corner of the "manse," as Mibs calls it with ir-
reverent mischief. The article generally carries several gray
smudges captioned "Southwest corner of the house before
work began/' and you can't help wondering where those
giant oaks came from in the "After" photographs. Maybe
they sprang up from acorns dropped by the workmen
while they were having lunch.
The first thing the high-hearted pair decide on is a new
roof. This fortunately costs only eight dollars, as they
use second-hand wattles and hire a twelve-year-old scab-
all right, maybe he only mislaid his union card— to tack
them on. The outside walls are a problem, but an amazing
stroke of good fortune comes to their rescue. Opening a
trap door they hadn't investigated, Mibs and Evan stum-
ble across countless bundles of lovely old hand-split
shingles which have been overlooked by previous tenants,
like the hens. Two superb Adam fireplaces, hitherto con-
cealed by some matchboarding, now make their appear-
ance, in one of them a box of dusty but otherwise well-
preserved pieces of Sandwich and Stiegel glass. "The
attic!" shout Mibs and Evan simultaneously, suddenly
remembering their resolution to look through it some
rainy day, and sure enough, there they find a veritable
treasure trove of pewter ware, cherry escritoires, Chippen-
dale wing chairs, sawbuck tables, and Field beds, hidden
away by survivors of the Deerfield massacre. "It just didn't
seem possible," recalls Mibs candidly, up to her old trick
of taking the words out of your mouth.
And now, suddenly, the place becomes a hive of activ-
ity. A salty old character named Lafe (who is really Paul
Bunyan, no matter what Nook and Garden says) appears
and does the work of ten men at the price of one. He pulls
down trees with his bare hands, lays new floors, puts up
partitions, installs electricity, diverts streams, forges the
ironware, bakes porcelain sinks, and all but spins silk
for the draperies. How this djinn ever escaped from his
bottle, and where he is now, the article neglects to men-
tion. The upshot is that in a little over two weeks, the
last hooked rug— picked up by Mibs at an auction for ten
cents after spirited bidding— is in place and the early
Salem kettle is singing merrily on the hob. A fat orange
tabby blinks before the fire and Evan, one arm around
Mibs, is adding up a column of figures. "Think of it,
lover/' whispers Mibs with dancing eyes. "We did the
whole thing for only fifty-one dollars and eighteen cents/"
"Less than we'll get for that article in The American
Home-Owner/ 9 murmurs Evan exultantly, reaming the
cake from his pipe. "Tell me, does oo love its 'ittle— " . . .
And now would you hate me if I stole out very quietly?
Fm afraid there's going to be just a wee bit of baby talk.
THE BODY BEAUTIFUL
Sometimes when I have worked for hours
in vain over a difficult problem in Baker Street and my
keen hawklike profile is drawn with fatigue, I like to take
down my Stradivarius, pile it on the fire and curl up with
a cop of Hygeia, the monthly magazine published by the
American Medical Association. I don't necessarily have to
read it; all I have to do is curl up with it. In a few minutes
my pulse becomes normal, my eyes glaze over, and I am
ready to do business with the Sandman. I don't know
much about medicine but I know what I like, If the
American Medical Association would only put up this
magazine in tablet or powder form nobody would ever
pass a white night again. Unlike other soporifics, Hygeia
does not affect the heart; I have even read a copy without
any ill effects other than a feeling of drowsiness the next
day. It fulfills every requirement of the United States
Pharmacopeia; it is clean, it is fresh every month, and it
is standard strength. From the opening essay on flat feet
down to the very last article on diabetic muffins, it is a
guaranteed yawn from cover to cover.
The one oasis in this Sahara, however, is a sort of out-
patient clinic where the layman is allowed to make a fool
of himself in full view of the medical profession. I quote
at random (random hell, I had to look through nineteen
copies to find it) a letter headed "Synthetic Saliva" ap-
pearing in the Q. and A. department of Hygeia:
"To the Editor:— How could saliva be duplicated?
Where could the proper materials be secured to duplicate
it or nearly so?— H.C.D., Illinois.
Here is a cry from the heart. Obviously some young
Frankenstein has built himself a monster or Golem in his
spare time out in the woodshed. With infinite labor and
utmost secrecy, using bits of wire, tin, old bones and
meat, he has created the perfect robot. Suddenly, on the
verge of completion, he stops in sudden panic. He has
left out saliva. The monster is beginning to growl omi-
nously; he wants what all the other boys on the street
have. But do you think the editors of Hygeia care? They
fob off H.C.D. (possibly one of the most brilliant
inventors of our time) with a few heavy-duty medical
words and sink into a complacent snooze, unmindful that
a raging monster with a dry mouth may be loose in the
Middle West at this very moment. I don't like to be an
alarmist, fellows, but this is a very short-sighted attitude.
No matter how blase they imagine themselves, hypo-
chondriacs from six to sixty will get a deep and ghoulish
satisfaction studying the correspondence which appears
each month. Those private maladies you have been prun-
ing and transplanting couldn't possibly compare with the
things that bother Hygeia. readers. The pathetic query of
J.I.B., Pennsylvania, will illustrate:
"To the Editor:— Is there any danger of contracting
radium poisoning from the use of clocks painted with a
radium compound; for instance, in case the clock crystal
should be broken and the radium compound chipped
The editors, who pretend to know everything, reply
that there is no danger whatsoever. This is pretty cold
comfort to a man who probably glows like a Big Ben every
time he enters a dark room. However, he might as well
stop barking up the wrong tree; he wouldn't get a civil
answer from Hygeia even if he grew a minute hand and
sounded the hour and half-hour with a musical chime.
I would like to think that the case of G.S., Ohio, is
also one of hypochondria but it has a more ominous ring:
'To the Editor:— Can the statements contained in a
recent daily newspaper that bobbing the hair will cause
girls to grow beards be verified? Or is it just a bit of
If that isn't a tacit admission that Miss G.S. is sport-
ing a grogan or an imperial around Ohio, I knock under.
Even if she only thinks she has a beard, I wouldn't give
her house-room; but that is beside the point, as she has
*iot asked me for house-room. She probably has the whole
house to herself anyway. Much more understandable is
the plight of the frightened Kansan who writes as follows:
"To the Editor:— My students tell me that surgeons
have been able to transplant the stomach from an animal,
as a calf or a goat, into man. Is this possible?— N.B.Z.,
I can sympathize with the poor fellow for I, too, get
the same sensation when I drink black velvet. Actually,
it only feels as if you had changed stomachs with a goat.
One morning I even woke up convinced that I had swal-
lowed a marble the night before. To make it worse, a
man named Mr. Coffee-Nerves was standing over my bed
in a white Prince Albert, helping me to hate myself. I got
up and went right through him to the bathroom where 1
had a long look at my chest. At first I couldn't tell whether
it was a steelie or a bull's-eye, but it turned out to be a clear
glass agate with a little lamb inside. I managed to dis-
solve my marble with two aspirins in a glass of hot water.
But thank God I'm no hypochondriac; you don't catch me
writing letters to the American Medical Association.
For a refreshing contrast to Hygeia, one turns to a live-
wire little monthly called Estes Back to Nature Magazine,
published at 1 1 3 North LaBrea Avenue, Hollywood, Cali-
fornia. Its editor is Dr. St. Louis Estes, who modestly
styles himself "Discoverer of Brain Breathing and Dy
namic Breath Controls for Disease Prevention and Life
Extension, Father and Founder of the Raw Food Move-
ment, and International Authority on Old Age and Raw
Foods." (There is something to write on a library card
when they ask you for your occupation.) Cooked vege-
tables, spices, and hair tonic are poison, says Dr. Estes,
and although I have never tried the combination, I can
readily believe it. But the Doctor is constructive, and J
know no better answer to the cynicism and bigotry of
Hygeia than a menu I found in his magazine. It was
labelled "A Dinner Fit for a King" and it still haunts me:
"EGG AND FRUIT SOUP: To one quart of milk and
one pint of cream, beat in thoroughly four eggs. Use as a
filler cubed pineapple, sweeten to taste with honey. Serve
in cups like broth.
"MOCK TURKEY-WHITE MEAT: Into one
pound of cottage cheese mix and roll equal amount of
raw flaked pecans, peanuts and Jordan almonds* until it
becomes a thick, solid mass. Season to taste with chopped
onions, pimientos, green peppers, adding a dash of pow-
dered celery, sage and horseradish. Serve in slices like
"MAPLE ICE CREAM: To one pint of whipped
cream add one pint of pure maple syrup. Whip until
thick. Then add the beaten whites of two eggs and one
cupful of chopped nuts. Freeze/'
Are We at the Crossroads?
^Woll} autumn is here again, and very shortly
every Tom, Dick and Harry will be asking himself the
question "Poisonous mushrooms— yes or no?" In every
mossy dell, in every nook of granny, these delicious little
edibles are springing up. Only yesterday I happened to
fall into conversation with a stranger in the subway, an
extremely well-made woman of thirty-one with Dresden-
dainty hands and feet, I noticed that she was eating a
small umbrella-shaped object and asked her what it was.
"An umbrella/' she replied shortly, descending from
the train at Seventy-second Street. Needless to say, the
incident did not pass unnoticed, and I retired in confusion
amid the hearty laughter of several wealthy cattle-drovers
who had come down to New York for the day on the
I first became interested in mushrooms about ten years
ago. Two friends of mine named Johnny had a little place,
a sort of cellar, on Fifty-second Street where they kept
coal and wood and ice. I was down there one evening
bent on some coal and wood when Tony pointed to the
ceiling and said "Coipo di Bacco, what's that?" I looked
up and there was a whole clump of mushrooms growing
right out at me. Well, I let out a scream fit to wake a
dead man— as a matter of fact, it did wake up a dead man
who'd been in the corner for three days and he came over
and tried to bite me. As I say, I stayed in bed nearly two
weeks that time, but after I was well, I got this FranI?
and Johnny to put aside the place as a sort of permanent
laboratory where I could study the mushrooms.
It will probably come as a mild shock to no one that
there are all of four hundred different kinds of mush-
rooms. Four hundred and one, really, because when I
looked up this fact in the World Almanac, I found a new
variety growing out of Page 29. Now, what are mush-
rooms? Nothing more or less than toadstools, though why
they are called toadstools is beyond me; I have yet to see
a toad sitting on a stool, although I have combed all the
books dealing with the subject. Of course I haven't had
a chance to study the books yet— all I've been able to do
is comb them, but still, it seems a peculiar name to give
an unoffending mushroom, doesn't it? It was probably
made up by someone who hated mushrooms and thought
he could get even. But why should anybody hate mush-
rooms? The little fellow goes about his business quietly;
once in a while he kills a family of twenty or thirty people,
but then, what right has anyone to have a family of twenty
or thirty people? I was wrapping up some laundry in a
newspaper recently and saw a note about a man who had
had thirty children. This sort of thing can't go on indefi-
nitely, no matter what the man says.
In the eleven years I have been studying mushrooms
at my laboratory on Fifty-second Street, I have seen
cases of almost uncanny intelligence among my speci-
mens. I had a Peppery Lactarius growing in a glass
right next to a Fistulina Hepatica, or Beefsteak Mush-
room. (If you can imagine a purple beefsteak covered with
short prickly spines growing out of a tree, you will easily
see why science chose this name, and you can then ex-
plain it to me.) Well, one morning I made the rounds
of my collection and found that during the night Miss
Peppery Lactarius had moved into Mr. Beefsteak Mush-
room's jar. I woke up my assistant, put a little ice on his
head, and quizzed him. But no; he had been right there
on the floor since eleven-thirty the night before. To this
day we have never been able to solve the riddle, and it is
still referred to by superstitious folk in the neighborhood
as "The Mystery of the Migrating Mushrooms." I am
thinking of bringing it out in book form, perhaps adding
a mysterious puffy toadstool in a black hat who was seen
skulking near by.
But how to tell the poisonous mushroom from the
harmless variety, since both are found in the same locali-
ties, have the same habits, and the same dull look around
the face? Ah— don't be surprised— the mushroom has a
face, and if you look very closely and carefully, you will
see the merest hint of an eye, two noses, and a lip. For pur-
poses of identification, we have what we call the Alfred
Zeigler test, named after Professor Schaffner of the Uni-
versity of Rochester. The mushrooms are boiled for
twenty minutes and their jackets removed. They are then
placed in a frying pan with a cubic centimeter of butter, a
gram of pepper, and a penny-weight of coarse salt, after
which they are subjected to 1 37 degrees of heat Fahren-
heit in the laboratory oven, removed, and placed on anti-
septic paper plates. Fifteen minutes after they are eaten, a
reaction will be noted. If the mushrooms are harmless,
the subject will want to lie down, remove his or her collar,
and roll over on his or her face. If poisonous, the balance
of the mushrooms should be thrown out, as they are
unfit to consume.
The mushroom often turns up in some really remark-
able forms. Sir Joseph Mushroom, from whom their name
is derived, tells an interesting anecdote. A cask of wine
had been left undisturbed in a cellar for three years, in
some country other than the United States. At the end
of that time, the cask was found firmly fastened to the
ceiling by a large mushroom which had grown as the
wine leaked out. The cask was quite empty when found,
and how the mushroom looked was nobody's business. Sir
Joseph, by the way, no longer raises mushrooms; he has
settled down quietly in Surrey, where he devotes himself
to raising bees, but there is still a reminiscent gleam in his
eye when Irene Adler is mentioned.
Little else remains to be told. Fred Patton, the former
Erie train boy, still continues to rise in Mr. Proskauer's
mercantile establishment on Ann Street, and Gloria
Proskauer blushes prettily whenever Fred's name is ut-
tered. This, however, is all too seldom, as the unfortunate
Fred was hit in the vertical cervix by a baked apple last
New Year's Day and succumbed almost instantly. And
so we leave the little snitch right smack up behind the
eight-ball, and a good end for the mealy-mouthed, psalm-
singing petty thief, if you ask me.
WHO'S GOT THE BLEND?
About eight o'clock last night I was lounging
at the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street,
an intersection celebrated in the eclogues of Louella
Parsons and Ed Sullivan, waiting for a pert baggage who
had agreed to accompany me to a double feature. If I bore
myself with a certain assurance, it was because I had
chosen my wardrobe with some care— a shower-of-hail
suit, lilac gloves, a split-sennit boater, and a light whangee
cane. Altogether, I had reason for self-satisfaction; I had
dined famously off a charmburger and a sky-high malt, my
cigar was drawing well, and the titles of the pictures I was
about to witness, "Block That Kiss" and "Khaki Buck-
aroo," augured gales of merriment. For a moment high
spirits tempted me to invest in a box of maxixe cherries
or fondant creams for my vis-a-vis, but after due reflection
I fought back the impulse. How utterly cloying, how anti-
climactic sweets would be after the speeches I had in
store for the pretty creature!
Weary at last of studying the colorful throng eddying
past me (I had already singled out Eddy Duchin, Sher^
wood Eddy, Eddie Cantor, Nelson Eddy, and Eddie
Robinson), I fell to examining a nearby billboard. The
advertisement was one of that familiar type in which an
entire cross section of the population seems to be rhap-
sodizing about the product—in this case, a delicacy named
Hostess Cup Cakes. "You should hear my bridge club
rave about those Hostess Cup Cakes," an excited house
wife was babbling to her friend, whose riposte was equally
feverish: "I wouldn't dare pack John's lunch without
putting in Hostess Cup Cakes !" Close by, a policeman
smiled benignly at a baby in a carriage, addressing its
mother with, "You have a lot of time for 'Precious' these
afternoons, Mrs. Jones." The reason for Mrs. Jones' leis-
ure was not unpredictable: "That's because it's easy to
plan desserts with Hostess Cup Cakes." The baby itself
was making no contribution to the symposium; appar-
ently the kitten had got hold of its tongue, but you could
tell from its expression that it would creep a mile for a
cup cake. It was, however, with a dialogue between two
Small boys that the copywriter kindled my interest into
flame. "Hurry!" one of them was admonishing the other.
"I've got 5c for Hostess Cup Cakes!" "Oh, boy!" chortled
his companion. "Do I love that secret chocolate blend!"
Although the romantic possibilities of a secret choco-
late blend and its theft by the spies of an enemy power
are undeniable, I think that behind the phrase there lurks
a warmer, more personal story. Naturally, the brief harle-
quinade which follows can indicate no more than its
highlights, but if the Hostess Cup Cake people care to
endow me for the next few months, I could expand it
into a three-act version, suitable for annual presentation
at Hollywood and Vine. I have no further use for that
corner, or, may I add, for my petite amie 7 who turned up
sobbing drunk with a Marine on either arm.
(Scene: The office of Dirk van Bensdorp, president and
general manager of the Hostess Cup Cake Corporation.
As the curtain rises, Dirk, a forceful executive, is reading
a lecture to his ne'er-do-well nephew, Jan Gluten, a minor
employee of the firm. The latter fidgets nervously with an
icing gun. His eyes are puffy with lack of sleep and the
little lines radiating horn his nose attest eloquently to
fondness for the grape.)
Dirk (warningly) — Now, look here, my boy, I'm gq
ing to talk to you like a Dutch uncle. Bakery circles ar$
abuzz with your escapades. You had better mend your
frays ere I lose patience.
Jan (surlily)— Aw, can de sermon.
Dirk— It's a stench in the nostrils of the cup-cake trade
—throwing away your guilders on fly chorus girls and driv-
ing your Stutz Bearcat in excess of sixty m.p.h.
Jan (lighting a cigarette with nicotine-stained fingers)
— I'm getting sick of dis joint. Every time I take a schnapps
or two wit* de fellers, some willy boy splits on me to de
Dirk (severely)— It's your work that gives you away,
my fine fellow. That last tray of fig bars you frosted was
Jan (lamely)— Dere was a fly in de amber icing.
Dirk— Excuses, excuses! Why, the complaints I've had
about your work would almost fill a book. (He holds up
a book almost filled with complaints about Jaris work, a
first edition.) And what's this about the attentions you
have been paying a certain raven-haired miss in the cus-
Jan (fiercely)— You keep Lorene Flake's name out of
dis, d ye hear?
Dirk (aside)— I see I have touched the lad in a vulner-
able spot. This seems to be more than mere philandering.
Jan— Lorene's decent, and clean, and— and fine! She's
straight as a string, I tell you!
Dirk (who loves a good joke now and then)— That's
probably why you're "knots" about her— ha-ha-ha!
Dirk (earnestly)— Why not prove yourself to the girl,
Jan? Eschew your dubious associates and turn over a new
Jan— Hully gee, I ain't fit to kiss de cuff of her slacks.
Dirk— Do your job and you'll win through. Make the
cup cakes fly under your fingers!
Jan (cynically)— Aw, rats. Youse is attempting to fob
off de speed-up system under de cloak of benevolent pa-
ternalism. (He exits.)
Dirk— Ah, well, there's good stuff in the boy. I was the
same at his age. (Ten Eyck, the shop foreman, hursts in>
his face ashen.)
Ten Eyck (panting)— The formula—
Dirk— What is it, man? What's happened?
Ten Eyck— The secret chocolate blend— gone— stolen!
Dirk (sputtering)— Ten thousand devils! But I locked
it in the safe myself last night!
Ten Eyck— I found the door wrenched off, beside it an
acetylene torch and a complete set of burglar's tools.
Dirk (instantly)— Someone must have opened the safe
by force! (A heavy footfall is heard on the stair.)
Ten Eyck— Why, who can that be?
Dirk— God grant that it may be Inspector Bunce, he
who gave us such material assistance in that mysterious
affair of the oatmeal cookies! (His prayers are answered;
Bunce enters, looks about him keenly) Inspector, our
Bunce— Yes, I know. When I find a safe pried open,
a series of unfrosted cup cakes, and two middle-aged
bakers in a notable state of agitation, the conclusions are
Dirk— You mean that the finger of suspicion points to
Loose- Wiles, the Thousand Window Bakeries, whose
agents have recently been skulking about in dirty gray
caps and gooseneck sweaters?
Bunce— This is an inside job, Bensdorp. I should like
a few words with your nephew.
Dirk (paling)— Surely you don't believe Jan—
Bunce— Please be good enough to call him. (Dirk, be-
wildered, presses a button and Jan shuffles in sullenly.)
Well, Gluten, still sticking to your story?
Jan (sneering)— I ain't got nuttin' else to add, see?
I pinched de secret chocolate plans to pay for de extrava-
gances of an actress I was infatuated wit\ It's an oft-told
story, rendered none de less sordid by repetition.
Bunce (with deadly calm)— One moment. Why are
you shielding Vernon Flake?
Jan (roughly ) —I never heard of de cove. Come on, clap
de darbies on me wrists. I'm ready to face de music.
Bunce— It won't wash, Jan. You found Vernon, Lo-
rene's worthless brother, crouched before the safe and to
protect the girl you love you have shouldered the blame
Jan (modestly)— Any bloke in me shoes would have
done de equivalent
Dirk— Hooray! I was convinced of his innocence at all
Jan (producing a cinnamon bun)— And here is de for-
mula inside dis sweetmeat, where de luckless Vernon hid
it for safekeeping.
Bunce— You've a smart cub there, Bensdorp. Nephews
of his stripe don't grow on trees. (Reaching for his Persianr
slipper) Well, Ten Eyck, what do you say to Sarasate at
the Albert Hall tonight, eh?
Ten Eyck— Capital, my dear Bunce. (They exit)
Dirk (embracing Jan)— Well, you young rascal, you
shall have your reward for this. Henceforth our Friday
specials will be known as "Cub Cakes" in your honor—
and remember, there's always room for brains at the top
in this organization.
Jan (surreptitiously pocketing his uncle's stickpin) —
You said a mout'f ul, cul.
BOY MEETS GIRL
\ Anybody who chanced to be flatboating down
the Sunday book-review sections lately, poling his way
through such nifties as Bismarck: A New Synthesis, by Dr.
Stauffer, or A Deciduous Girl oi Old Williamsburgh, by
Sara Leamington Latrobe, probably wound up the day in
a darkened room applying vinegar poultices freely to his
forehead. It would seem from the publishers' spring lists
that the entire Hippocratic fraternity had forsworn the
art of healing in favor of letters. Possibly because of the
general world breakdown, the family doctor whose reti-
cence was celebrated in song and story has suddenly caved
in and become a garrulous old chatterbox, buttonholing
the passerby and babbling your most cherished anatomi-
cal secrets. Since the success of Dr. Victor Heiser, a veri-
table freshet of reminiscence has been roaring through
the bookshops. If turnabout is fair play and a layman may
diagnose his physician's complaint, the boys who wrote
The Horse and Buggy Doctor, Consultation Room, and
Doctor, Here's Your Hat are down with a thundering case
of furor scribendi. Gone the spatula and the glittering
optical mirror, and in their place the quill pen and the
purple patch. If you have been looking for a bargain in
second-hand scalpels, this is your golden opportunity. But
it looks like a hell of a summer for invalids.
It remained for Dr. Dudley J. Morton of the College
of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia, however, to in-
vest the common or garden foot with glamour and em-
ploy it as material for romance. In Oh, Doctor! My Feet*
undeniably the most plaintive title of the season, Dr.
Morton sets your foot tapping, if only to convince your-
self that it still articulates. Dr. Morton has builded better
than he knew; the reader becomes so acutely aware of his
feet that he spends his day listening with a rather cun-
ning expression to his toes meshing into gear. My experi-
ence has been that although this type of work is not
exhausting, it pays very badly.
Dr. Morton, with a sense of dramatic value not com-
monly encountered in orthopedists, opens his narrative
explosively. Into the office of a Dr. Nelson, shouting,
"Oh, Doctor! My feet/" bursts Mrs. Roberts, an attractive
young matron. Conscious of the brusqueness of her words,
she adds hastily, "Oh, please forgive me, Dr. Nelson, but
my feet burn and ache so I scarcely know what to do."
Dr. Nelson soothingly guides her to a chair with, "Well,
you have done the rational thing by coming to see me, for
I'm certain I can help you/' I suppose the irrational thing
for Mrs. Roberts would have been to consult a black-
smith, but I myself would have liked her better for it.
As a matter of fact, Dr. Morton throughout portrays Mrs.
Roberts as something of a creep, which I suspect is a
deep-seated conviction among doctors about their pa-
tients. She is scarcely seated when her face expresses "a
considerable degree of surprise/' "Why, I didn't know
you were interested in feet, Doctor." By one of those
amazing coincidences which happen only in fiction, Dr.
Nelson turns out to be the ideal party to whom Mrs.
Roberts should have brought her feet. He invites her to
relate her symptoms. "Well, Doctor/' Mrs. Roberts re-
plies, "they started to bother me about two years ago and
since then I've tried almost everything. My closet is so
full of shoes I've bought on recommendation or seen
advertised that my husband laughs at me and suggests I
open a store/' You will notice that Dr. Morton, not con-
tent with delineating Mrs. Roberts as a simpleton, gratui-
tously insinuates her husband is a red-faced, bull-necked
extrovert who taunts his wife with her malady. Somehow,
it left me with the uncomfortable feeling that the author
had poisoned a well. Try as I would, I kept seeing Mr.
Roberts in my mind's eye as a sort of Dr. Grimesby Roy-
lott, a savage tyrant who goes around kicking open doors
and bending pokers double.
Oddly enough, at this very juncture Dr. Nelson puts
on a display of scientific deduction that would have done
credit to Holmes himself. Ordering Mrs. Roberts to re-
move her shoes and stockings and stand directly in front
of him, he asks his patient, with hardly more than a cur-
sory glance, "Do you have the calluses on the soles of
your feet treated often?" If Mrs. Roberts was surprised
before, she now is reduced to a stupefaction worthy of
Watson. "You haven't even looked at the bottom of my
feet/ 7 she reminds the Doctor faintly. The latter, without
even a casual yawn, points out that her second toes are
distinctly longer than her great toes. Simpering girlishly,
Mrs. Roberts replies, "But I always took that to be an
indication of a perfect foot. If you will permit a little con-
fession, I have always been secretly proud of my feet—
at least, I have been since I noticed that the short great
toe is distinctly shown in Grecian sculpture." Dr. Nelson,
in that maddening way doctors have, crushes Mrs. Rob-
erts' pitiful little pride in her feet with the rejoinder,
''What was ideal for the women of ancient Greece is defi-
nitely not ideal for the modern woman who wears high-
heeled shoes/' Of course, old smarty-pants Nelson knows
what Grecian women wore on their feet; he was there.
Everybody remembers him around the agora, arm in arm
with Pericles. Oh, you wine-dark, loud-thundering, many-
throated Nelson, you!
Well, one thing and another and before you know it
Mrs. Roberts is on her way home with orders to stay off
her feet and plunge them alternately into hot and cold
water, which I could have told her who know as much
about podiatry as any wide-awake gibbon in the Bronx
The next chapter is a colloquy on Mrs. Roberts' feet
between the Doctor and his nurse. This could easily be
lifted in its entirety and put into a revue. The dialogue
is crisp and meaty, and Dr. Nelson manages to make quite
a fool of the girl with his answers. It would have made
an effective blackout had they beaten each other with
rolled-up newspapers, but there I go carping again. Early
bext morning another patient staggers in, a Mrs. Wells.
She, too, is having a very thin time with her feet, and
the Doctor treats her with the tender sympathy of a Tor-
quemada: "He then proceeded to test the movements of
all the joints of the foot and ankle, noting that Mrs. Wells
was able, when her knees were held straight, to bend her
feet upward only slightly beyond a right angle with her
legs. [That is, without applying the boot.] Finally he
pressed gently but deeply into the centre of her instep.
She winced and drew her foot back, just as Mrs. Roberts
had done the day before." The upshot of this diablerie
is one of those superb bits of patient-baiting that doctors
excel at: "His patient . . . could no longer suppress her
eager curiosity. 'Doctor/ she asked, 'are my arches fallen?'
'No/ he replied, 'they aren't— any more than a person
with eyestrain is blind/ " In her place I would have given
the Doctor a jab in the sweetbreads with my shiv and
trusted my feet, however retrograde, to outrun the law.
But Mrs. Wells, shaken by her session on the rack, has
hardly strength to whimper. With the admonition she is
to rest her feet and take contrast plunges— old sure-shot
Nelson— Mrs. Wells totters out, her nerves vibrating like
From this point on, I must confess, the suspense in>
plicit in the characters is not sustained. With all the ele-
ments of a corking triangle, two women driven crazy by
their feet and their love for a handsome orthopedist, the
author does little. True, he has Dr. Nelson afford his pa-
tients some relief, but at what a price! In the twelfth
chapter, Mrs. Roberts confesses, "Dr. Nelson, my feet
are so much better, but I am embarrassed over the ridicu-
lous way I acted the other day." In other words, he has
succeeded in substituting a nice expensive neurosis for
what is, after all, only a housewife's occupational disease.
Moreover, on the very next page is the alarming admis-
sion, "The doctor examined her feet again. He noted that
the calluses had been removed and the areas covered with
moleskin." Is Mrs. Roberts happier with an inferiority
complex and feet that look like a pair of old football pants?
That's her lookout. Me, Til string along with hexerei.
Where would a man pick up a lucky potato and the hair
ball of an ox?
WHAT AM I DOING
AWAY FROM HOME?
When I was growing up in New Guinea, or
coming of age in Samoa, or whatever the hell I was doing
about the age of thirteen, I had occasion to spend a con-
siderable part of my life in hotels. To this day the subtle
bouquet of brass polish, hotel carpeting, and rubber plants
does more to recall my youth than a dozen faded albums.
Mind you, this is no bid for sympathy. I did all right, even
if I was the youngest patient in the history of the Keeley
Cure. At least I could hold up my end in a group of
travelling men discussing the Raines Law, which is more
than can be said for certain milksops at Groton and St.
What little scar tissue I carry from those early experi-
ences, however, leaps into bas-relief at a publication of
the Pennsylvania Hotels Association called Live. Its high
purpose, according to a foreword, is "to tell you a few
things about hotels you may not know ... to show you
how well a hotel cares for its guests no matter when they
arrive or how tired or hungry they are." Judging from one
anecdote, it sets about it in a fairly oblique manner:
Many years ago a foreigner, the guest of a hotel, wanted
something done to his dress coat. He summoned a maid, but,
unable to speak English, could do nothing but indicate his
wishes by drawing his hand across the waist of the coat. It
seemed obvious that he wanted the coattails cut off and she
was about to send for the valet. He protested, urging her to do
the job. She procured a scissors, cut off the tails and sewed the
raw edges as best she could. When he returned, he was furious.
Much later it turned out he only wanted the coattails pinned
back— a job he could easily have done himself. To his credit,
he goodnaturedly agreed the joke was on him.
There is an air of dreadful, inhuman gaiety about the
tale that freezes the marrow in one's bones. What grim
rigadoon was this foreigner about to attend that he must
have his coat-tails pinned back, what concourse of ghouls?
I can almost see the ghastly grin lighting up his sunken
face— if you can call it a face— as he agreed that the joke
was on him. I'll thank the Pennsylvania Hotels Associa-
tion to omit these fiendish vignettes if they want my
And they certainly do— passionately, unreservedly, for
on Page 8 of their brochure they offer twenty-seven prizes
for the best essay on "Why I Like to Stop at a Hotel/'
"If you have ever stopped at a hotel— even for one night
—you are eligible for this contest/' they urge. Well, kids,
I stopped at a hotel one night a while back, and in
Pennsylvania, too. Not only am I eligible, but now that
I've got the floor, you just try to take it away from me. I
don't want a prize; all I want is a hearing.
Some years ago a small gasket which controls the plumb-
ing in my country home gave way without warning, and
while the plumbers were awaiting a duplicate from Car-
tier's, I tied a foxtail to the radiator of my Jordan cabriolet
and went touring. Night found me at a crossroads before
a spacious establishment with a handsome mansard roof
and the inviting legend "Snapper Suppers." With many
a cry of "Oh, dem snapper suppers!" and "Oh, dat sue-
culent spoon bread wid cloudy honey fresh out ob de
hive!" I flung myself on the dollar-and-a-quarter table
d'hote. The snapper supper turned out to have been pre-
fabricated in Camden, New Jersey, and, dulling my hun-
ger with something called a "spamwich" and a cup of
lava, I mounted to my room. It was dominated by the
bed, a sizable Victorian affair with a mattress easily two
inches thick. Anticipating that guests might want to read
in bed, the management had thoughtfully strung a naked
electric bulb twelve feet away from the ceiling. I read the
Hotel M en's Guide until my eyes rolled around the coun-
terpane like marbles, and then turned in. The light was
scarcely off before the wicker furniture began a slow,
sinister gavotte around the room, creaking and groaning
like Foxe's Book of Martyrs. Simultaneously automobile
headlights started flashing across the bay window opposite
my bed, and I realized that Dead Man's Carrefour was
in for a night of brisk traffic. I was lying there trying to
distinguish the lady motorists by the way the brakes
screeched on the curve, when the voices went into action
in the bar below.
At first they were pitched in a low, rasping hum devoid
of vowels, somewhat like Icelandic but more bestial. As
time wore on they became interwoven with sharp cries
and commands of "Glonfy!" and "Rehume!" None of
the words was quite audible, and as a result I had to keep
every faculty tense. For a while I courted the theory that
i group of Mr. Joyce's admirers were reading aloud from
Finnegans Wake, but suddenly somebody started to break
the spindles out of the back of a Windsor chair, using an
old-fashioned brass spittoon. I pounded on the floor; he
cheerily beat an answering tattoo on the ceiling. I now
decided to put my faith in the barbiturates, let the chips
fall where they might, and swallowing several capsules
that would have killed me had I been a horse, I crept back
into my burrow.
A delightful surprise awaited me. Some sort of foreign
body inside the pillow now insisted on obtruding into the
back of my neck, a space ordinarily reserved for the
caresses of wealthy middle-aged women. The obstruction
seemed to be cylindrical, yielding to the touch, and about
two and a half inches long— in short, the exact size and
consistency of a roll of bills. The more I thought about
it, the more convinced I became that I had unwittingly
stumbled across a cache. And if size meant anything, the
world was mine. I exultantly began planning how I would
track down Baron Danglars, what I would do to Mercedes
the fair Catalan. All that remained was to open the pillow.
Any fool can open a pillow, I cackled.
It took me twenty minutes to realize that here was one
fool who couldn't, armed with nothing more than a tooth-
brush, a comb and a commode. I hacked and tore at the
seams of that pillow until my fingertips bled and I sobbed
aloud with vexation. Meanwhile, in the bar below, the
Walpurgisnacht was in full swing. On the stairs outside
my room they were re-enacting Israel Putnam's escape
from the British, and every so often somebody in the
room overhead broke into a waltz clog in a pair of specially
built lead shoes. Whether it was frustration, Sedormid,
or both which finally got me, 111 never know. But this I
do know: from now on I'm strictly the Scholar Gipsy,
with a knapsack and a bit of bread and cheese snapping
at my heels. It may be hot in a haystack, but by God, it's
About ten years ago there was translated to the
screen as a vessel for the talents of Warner Baxter a play
called "I Loved You Wednesday/' The result was an
amiable little film which undoubtedly recovered its in-
vestment, earned a snug profit, and in the normal course
of things was retired to be cut into mandolin picks. What
makes it still verdant in the memory of connoisseurs,
however, is a patch of dialogue that came about the end
of the first reel. Mr. Baxter, in beautifully tailored breeches
and cordovans, had been established as a construction en-
gineer on a vast, unidentified power project, barking crisp
commands at giant cranes and chivying steam shovels.
The scene then dissolved to his home, and as the work-
worn engineer entered, his wife looked up eagerly from
her sewing. "What's new, dear?" she inquired. "Well,
darling/' replied Baxter, inhaling deeply and brushing
clouds of alkali from his shoulders, "I just finished Boul-
der Dam/' "Oh, ]im\" murmured his wife adoringly.
It may be presumptuous of me to compare myself in
any sense with Mr. Baxter (I am twenty pounds lighter,
not quite as photogenic, and infinitely less solvent), but
if sheer doggedness and fighting heart mean anything, the
undertaking I have just completed may yet outclass his.
At ten o'clock this morning, fortified with a bottle of ben-
zedrine and a stoup of black coffee, I kissed my newsdealer
good-bye and set out to read through the Christmas-party
suggestions in Mademoiselle, Vogue and House & Gar-
den. "It's madness, Derek!" implored the handful of
friends who had come down to see me off. "Think it over,
old man! You'll never get through!" I smiled grimly, set
my jaw as well as a serious case of malocclusion would
allow, and plunged into the perfume advertising. Hours
later, gray with fatigue and my eyes mere pin-points in my
head, I stumbled out of the back cover of House & Garden
and fell forward into the waiting arms of my friends.
Perhaps the most soaring imagination displayed in any
of the three magazines is that of a Mr. Lester Gaba, whom
Mademoiselle called in to advise its readers regarding
their Christmas decor. It is Mr. Gaba's thesis that, given
a little energy and a few everyday materials, Christmas
need never be stodgy. His first target is the tree itself.
"Dip tips of twisted cotton strips into India ink and trim
your tree entirely with 'ermine tails/ " he orders. "Pin a
fresh mauve orchid to the treetop." Arresting as the effect
might be, the actual execution seems a bit less simple.
"Well, what do we do next?" I can hear a Mr. Kapustin
asking his wife as he finishes tacking up the last holly
wreath. Mrs. Kapustin peers uncertainly at her copy of
Mademoiselle. " Tip dips of twisted crotton sips—' " she
begins. "No, wait a minute. 'Sip dips of cristed totton
tips—' " Obviously, such an enterprise can only end in
disaster. Either Mr. Kapustin, who is extremely short-
tempered, snatches the magazine from his wife, provok-
ing a free-for-all, or the dawn discloses two pallid house-
holders on the verge of a breakdown, mumbling, "Dip,
Next turning his attention to the lighting, Mr. Gabs
says, "Go medieval: get Gothic-lantern effects by shield*
ing ceiling bulbs with pierced, rectangular tin food-
graters/' It might be well to temper your enthusiasm for
this novel hint with a pinch of caution, unless you want
a dusky handmaiden mounted on a chair right in the
middle of your party, grating carrots over the shoulders
of your guests and murmuring bitterly to herself in Gul-
lah. In the event you do, the best plan would be to sprinkle
artificial snow around her feet and drape her with silver
festoons and candy canes. It is certainly just as feasible
as another of Mr. Gaba's suggestions: 'Tie blown-up, red
penny balloons to your outdoor Christmas trees. The kids
in the block will pop them quick like a flash—but who
cares?" Who indeed but an old Scrooge? I, for one, can
think of no more diverting pastime than beating off sting-
ing pellets from a bean-blower while setting 'em up in
the next alley for a little marksman. The same promise of
high adventure pervades still another of Mr. Gaba's pro-
posals: "Decorate your mantel with a begged, borrowed,
or stolen French horn filled cornucopia-style with holly
and mistletoe." No French-horn player around Carnegie
Hall will refuse to turn over his instrument to you once
the purpose is explained to him. Should he prove reluc-
tant, simply read him Mr. Gaba's article, and if that fails
to stun him, sap him just below the left ear with a black-
jack. Anybody so deficient in Christmas spirit, and above
all a French-horn player, is hardly worth your sympathy.
Conscious of its august tradition, Vogue naturally
scorns any such pinchpenny devices as the foregoing. Its
article on the subject permits the reader to flatten his nose
against the windows of several great houses and watch their
occupants celebrate. Mrs. Fredrick Frelinghuysen, for in*
stance, occasionally "masques all the curtains in great
lengths of red mosquito netting/' a mystifying rite, since
there are surely no red mosquitoes in Mrs. Frelinghuysen's
well-ordered home. (Who the devil Mrs. Frelinghuysen
is I have no idea, but it is a cinch from the context that
she has a well-ordered home. ) Another family brews up
an appalling mixture of port, brandy, Burgundy, almonds
and raisins, called glogg, and then, I presume, proceeds
to get quietly gloggy. A deeply religious bachelor, whose
name is unfortunately not given, "once set his Christmas
table with all sorts of mechanical toys. As the guests en-
tered the dining room, the wound-up dolls, acrobats, ani-
mals, merry-go-rounds began performing their mechani-
cal tricks/' The effect on the guests, already reeling with
glogg, must have been a curious one. Somehow, I have
the feeling that everybody started turning handsprings,
tearing down the smilax, and beating the tar out of the
host— a thing he richly deserved.
No such chronicle, of course, would be complete with-
out mention of Hollywood's method of observing the holi-
day. Mrs. Richard Barthelmess, I discovered, "often trims
her trees with Cellophane tassels or opalescent glass bub-
bles," so refreshing after the opalescent iron bubbles one
encounters everywhere. The Charles Boyers "cajole little
pickaninnies to sing the Christmas carols." As one who
in eight years has yet to see a pickaninny, big or little,
within the confines of Beverly Hills, I can only conclude
that the Boyers must range all the way to Georgia and
Mississippi for their little sable songsters. Mr. Boyer is
a very persuasive article, but that threatens to stand as an
all-time high in cajolery.
It was left to that ordinarily staid journal of gracious
living, House & Garden, however, to emerge with the
one truly brilliant inspiration of the season— an upside-
down evergreen tree swung from the ceiling. To any-
human flies within the sound of my voice, here is an open
invitation: Drop around at my flat whenever you like on
Christmas Eve with your suction shoes and have a cup
of glogg on our ceiling. The Kapustins will be there and
so will Mr. Gaba, if he isn't tied up (figuratively speaking,
of course). You'll know me right away because my eyes
will be so radiant; and, besides, Fll have a fresh mauve
orchid in my hair— to say nothing of Mademoiselle,
Vogue and House & Gaiden.
SMUGGLERS IN THE DUST,
or, Hollywood Hits Back
New racket, consisting of the smuggling of tour-
ists into film studios, is being stamped out by industry execs,
working in collaboration with the Better Business Bureau.
Gang in downtown Los Angeles had been slipping visitors,
at $7.50 per head, into the picture lots through bribery and
other subterfuges.— Variety.
(Scene: A rather sordid opium den in downtown Los
Angeles. Two tiers of bunks at left and right contain hud-
dled figures, obviously slaves oi the poppy. Downstage, at
center, an unearthly greenish glow picks out the figure of
an Old Man crouched over a kerosene lamp. He is turn-
ing an opium pill on a hat pin over the lamp flame and
muttering inscrutable wisdom oi the East. At left, a slid-
ing panel in the wall, marked "Sliding Panel/ 7 and at
right a telephone, unfortunately without any wires.)
Old Man (muttering the inscrutable wisdom of the
East)— Five thousand years ago the sage hath said, "If a
pepper seed takes wings, it will turn into a dragonfly, yet
if a dragonfly loses its wings, it will not revert to a pepper
seed/' That is what the sage hath said five thousand years
ago. (The door at rear opens suddenly and Bob Bundy,
a young motion-picture executive, enters. He looks about
Bob Bundy (aside)— What a strange place! My chum
Tyrone Rukeiser must have been joking when he told me
to meet him here. But then, he is the smartest investi-
gator in the Los Angeles Better Business Bureau and as
bright as a new penny. With his resourcefulness and cool
daring, we should soon see the last of the gang which has
been slipping visitors, at $7. 50 per head, into the picture
lots through bribery and other subterfuges. (Sees Old
Man huddled over lamp) Hullo! Perhaps this bit of hu-
,jnan flotsam can assist me. . . . Have you seen a young
man answering to the name of Tyrone Rukeiser?
Old Man (querulously)— No savvy Tylone Lukeiser.
This No. 1 sordid hop joint, catchum plenty first-chop
Bob (aside)— John Chinaman is a slick customer; I
shall have to match wits with him. . . . Have you a tele-
phone, my fliend?
Old Man— Telephone here but no wires along him.
Bob— Perhaps it will work without them. (Into phone)
Hello, Central? Give me Tyrone Rukeiser, ace investi-
gator of the Better Business Bureau and sworn nemesis
of the gang which has been slipping visitors, at $7.50 per
head, into the picture lots through bribery and other sub-
terfuges. . . . What, he left hours ago? Oh, beans!
Old Man (chuckling)— Tylone Lukeiser allee samee
Bob (hotly)— Easy, Mister, easy! Anything you say
about that party goes double for Bob Bundy!
Old Man— Bob Bundy him likewise a jerk.
Bob (advancing with doubled fists)— Darn your imper-
tinence, you scum— (Old Man rises, slips off his disguise,
revealing Tyrone Rukeiser.)
Tyrone (good-humoredly)— Not so fast, Bob Bundy!
Bob (gasping) —You had me nonplussed for a moment
You could pass muster anywhere, old man!
Tyrone— You bet I could pass muster [mustard]; I
hate it. . . . Now look here, Bob, we have no time to lose
Have you a "roscoe" on your person?
Bob (pats his pocket significantly)— Yes; I brought my
Tyrone— Good. We'll need your Mauser [mouser] for
Bob— But tell me— where are we?
Tyrone— In the stronghold of "Shameful Roger" Es-
terhazy, guiding genius of the gang.
Tyrone— Exactly. And tonight finds our precious friend
on the threshold of what may well be his most audacious
exploit. You recall the recent disappearance of a certain
Eunice Haverstraw, only daughter of wealthy Judge Hav-
erstraw of Vandalia, Mo.?
Bob— I thought little of it at the time.
Tyrone— Few did. Through sources of information at
my disposal, however, I soon found that "Shameful
Roger" is keeping her prisoner in this maze of under-
ground tunnels, employing a drug as yet little known to
science, which paralyzes the will. (Lowering his voice)
Bob, I have every reason to believe he plans to substitute
her for glamorous Irene Dunne in the R.K.O. production
"She Married Her Public Relations Counsel"!
Bob— The man must be a devil in human guise!
Tyrone— Furthermore, he intends to smuggle himself
into Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, pass himself off as Louis B
Mayer, and then embark on a veritable orgy of sub-
Bob— How to circumvent this mad enterprise calcu-
lated to strike at the very heart of the flicker industry?
Tyrone— I have been racking my pate for the solution.
Luckily, I have wormed my way into the confidence of
"Feathers" Blake, Esterhazy's moll, whom I am expecting
here at any moment.
Bob (soberly)— This is playing with fire, old chap. Keep
your nose clean; you are treading on dangerous ground.
Tyrone (pushing him out the door)— Look, you go
and reconnoitre. And if you can't find Eunice Haverstraw,
for God's sake dig up some new metaphors. (As Bob exits,
the sliding panel opens and "Feathers" Blake enters sinu-
ously. She wears tight black satin and silver foxes, carries
a mesh bag containing a wicked little pearl-handled re-
Feathers (her eyes smoldering)— Hello, you two-tim-
Tyrone— Why, what's the matter, Feathers?
Feathers— Nothing. I always say that whenever I enter
a room. (Lifting her face to his) Like me a little?
Tyrone— What do you think?
Feathers— What do I think?
Tyrone— Yes, what do you think?
Feathers— About what?
Tyrone— I forget.
Feathers— The trouble with you is you're more in love
with love than you are with me.
Tyrone (parrying)— Love is a sometime thing.
Feathers— Well, get this, brother. You remain true to
me or I'll kill you.
Tyrone (thinking to pass it off lightly)— You'll have
to make me a better offer than that— ha-ha-ha!
Feathers— Quiet, you heel. (She seals his mouth with
Tyrone— I wonder if we're being quite fair to "Shame*
ful Roger" Esterhazy.
Feathers— Pah! He's busy with that blonde milksop,
Tyrone (craftily)— Where do you suppose he keeps
Feathers (off her guard)— In a suite of apartments di-
rectly above, furnished in truly Oriental splendor.
Tyrone— Say, let's sneak up there— it might be a lark!
(A gong sounds; they turn, startled, to End "Shameful
Roger" Esterhazy in the doorway. He is a sinister, well-
groomed individual on the order oi Cesar Romero, edu-
cated both here and abroad, speaks several languages mis-
erably. The occupants of the bunks slide down and sur-
round the guilty couple.)
Esterhazy (blandly)— Good evening, my dear. ... So
you're the young man who has been meddling in my af
fairs. (His men seize and bind Tyrone and Feathers.)
Tyrone (boldly)— Your goose is cooked, Esterhazy.
All the facts relative to your dubious operations are in a
safe-deposit box at the Cordwainers' and Poulterers' Na-
tional Bank— and the D.A. has the key!
Esterhazy— Yes, my friend, but I have you. Now, Mr.
Rukeiser, we shall have a little divertissement, so you will
please to sit very quietly in that chair. (His aides produce
a gunnysack, place Feathers inside, and open a hidden
Tyrone (playing for time)— You are a cunning adver-
sary, "Shameful Roger/' I confess I hardly expected to see
the Los Angeles River here.
Esterhazy— Simply a tributary, my dear fellow, but
the effect is the same. You're next, so watch closely.
Lower away, lads. (As they pick up the bag, the sharp
notes of a bugle ring out offstage and eight comely misses
in Girl Scout uniform hurst in the door, brandishing
swords made of lath. They quickly overpower Esterhazy
and his confederates.)
Corporal Dora Ammidown (to Tyrone)— We got
your message in the nick of time.
Esterhazy (with an oath)— Jeekers! Who are you,
The GiRLS-The D.A.R.
The Girls— The Daughters of Albertina Rasch!
Bob Bundy (entering with a beautiful heiress)— And
here is Eunice Haverstraw, in fairly good condition. (A
portly gentleman in cutaway and silk hat pushes through
the throng and embraces her.)
Judge Haverstraw (to Tyrone)— You Ve rounded up
a dangerous nest of radicals, my boy. Here is my certified
check for fifty thousand dollars Mex. (His eyes twinkling)
And if Eunice still wants you— well, son, there's always a
partnership open in Dostoievski, Griscom, Zarathustra &
Tyrone— Thanks, Judge, but— well, I guess I have a
Judge Haverstraw (loudly)— Why, what do you
mean, you insolent guttersnipe?
Tyrone (softly, to Bob)— Shall we tell them?
Bob (blushing)— If— if you like, Tyrone. (Bob hastily
removes his disguise of motion-picture executive, reveal-
ing himself to be Rosalind Russell An instant of surprise,
and then all join in a long locomotive for the lovers and
troop off, leaving Feathers to kick around disconsolately
in her gunnysack until the stagehands release her.)
BEAT ME, POST-
Any of you kids seen Somerset Maugham? I
haven't run into him lately, but I'll bet those advertise-
ments for "The Moon and Sixpence" put the roses in his
cheeks. In case you've been spending the last couple of
weeks underwater, the Messrs. Loew and Lewin have just
transferred to the screen Mr. Maugham's novel of the
ordeal of Charles Strickland, a character closely resem-
bling Paul Gauguin. Faced with merchandising so spirit-
ual a problem, the producers evidently recalled that Vin-
cent van Gogh had been popularized as a man who mailed
his ear to a friend, and decided to sell their boy on a similar
basis. The leitmotiv of the campaign was a busty Poly
nesian hussy in a pitifully shrunken sarong, lolling on her
back in considerable abandon and smelling a flower. Peer-
ing out of a palm tree above, mighty lak a chimp, was
George Sanders in the best beard that money could buy.
"I Don't Want Love! I hate it!" he was declaring petu-
lantly. "It interferes with my work . . . and yet . . . I'm
only human!" A second advertisement portrayed the
painter in an equally disenchanted mood, over the cap-
tion "Women Are Strange Little Beasts/ You can treat
them like dogs (he did!)— beat them 'til your arm aches
(he did) . . . and still they love you (they did). But in
the end they'll get you and you are helpless in their
Although Gauguin's journal, "Avant et Apres," and his
correspondence with D. de Montfreid are fairly blue in
spots, he is not primarily remembered as passion's play-
thing, and these insinuations may confound the strait-
laced. Now that Hollywood has thrown the ball into play,
however, the following letters I recently unearthed in
my bottom bureau drawer deserve careful scrutiny. They
were written by the artist to my father's barber, who lived
in the bureau between 1895 and 1897. ^ ere anc ^ there I
have taken the liberty of translating the rather difficult
argot into current idiom, for clarity.
Mataiea, July 17, 1896
Well, my old, you must think I am a fine pascudnici:
indeed not to answer you before this, but man is born to
trouble as the sparks fly upward and I am winging. The
day after I wrote you, who should come mousing around
but that little brunette, Tia, in her loose-leaf pareu, which
it's enough to melt the umber on a man's palette. It so
happened I was in the hut with this tall job from Papeete,
dashing off a quick pastel. I told Tia to stop needling me,
but she was inconsolable. Distraught, I asked what she
required. "Poi," she responded. Poi is one thing I have
never refused anybody yet, Marcus, so, brushing off this
other head, I made with the poi. The instant we were
alone, the pretty trickster revealed her design. "I'm a
strange little beast!" she cried. "Beat me 'til your arm
aches!" Me, a family man. Figurez-vous, Marcus, what
could I do? I bounced her around a bit, knocked out sev-
eral of her teeth, and invited her to withdraw, as I had to
complete a gouache by five o'clock. Dame/— the next thing
I knew, Miss Goody Two-shoes had sealed the door, swal-
lowed the key [clef], and I was it.
As to the painting, it goes very slowly. Kindest thanks
for your new calendar, which arrived in good condition.
Personally, the model is somewhat skinny for my taste
and there is too much drapery, but tiens, that is the bour-
geois style. Tell me more about that youth, the son of
your patron. The boy has genius, Marcus; I have an in-
stinct for these things. Mark me well, he will yet be an-
other Piero della Francesca.
I pinch your claws,
Mataiea, November 12, 1896
Life here becomes increasingly tiresome, my friend;
the women refuse to let me alone. How I envy Vincent
those days at Aries, with nothing between him and his
muse but the solar spectrum. I came to this miserable hole
surfeited with civilization and its trinkets. One might as
well be back in the Rue Vercing6torix. Last night I at-
tended a native fete and, like a chump, neglected to close
my door. Returning home about two with a charming
person who insisted on seeing my frescoes, I found the
wife of the Minister of Public Works concealed under
the bed. The old story— I must beat her without further
ado, treat her like a dog, else she will stop loving me.
Quelle b£tise! My arms are so tired from flailing these
cows that I can hardly mix my pigments. I sit down in a
workingmen's cafe for an infusion; immediately I am sur-
rounded by hordes of beauties begging me to maltreat
them. I arise each morning determined to spend the day
seriously. A pair of dark eyes at the window, a tender
glance, and pouf [pouf] # go my resolutions. After all, Fm
I have a superb conception for a canvas which would
be the very antithesis of Manet's "Olympia"— a native
girl stretched on the sofa, regarding the onlooker with a
mixture of fear and coquetry. At this rate I shall never
finish it. Every sketch I begin ends the same. I pose the
model on a divan, run my hand lightly over her back to
enhance the sheen— au iond I am a painter of highlights—
and zut, we are off on a tangent. For the time, merely to
block in the masses, I am using a rolled-up umbrella in
lieu of a girl. Actually, an ironic comment on your modern
woman—all ribs and cloth. Where are those big, jolly,
upholstered girls one used to see?
One fault only I find with your letters: there are too
many lacunae. You say your patron's son was surprised
embracing his governess. Et alors? What ensued? You
leave too much to the imagination. Describe the scene
with greater fidelity. Send photographs if possible. In any
event, I must have a photo of the governess, preferably
in her chemise, for a composition I am engaged on. It is
an airy caprice in the manner of Watteau, quite unlike
my current things— the startled governess blushing pro-
fusely, repulsing yet yielding to a diminutive satyr. I call
it "Tickled Pink/' Don't misunderstand, mon copain,
This is simply relaxation, a change of pace from every-
thing else I'm doing.
Mataiea, May 3, 1897
Epochal news! I have arrived! After years of scorn and
obloquy, after a lifetime of abuse from academicians and
the kept press, I have at last attained official recognition!
It came in the person of Mme. Dufresnoy, wife of the
new Governor General, just as I was at the lowest ebb
of despair. Reconstruct the scene for yourself: I was pac-
ing moodily before my easel, alone, forgotten, attempting
to wring some inspiration from the four or five scantily
clad houris grouped on the dais. Suddenly, the sound of
carriage wheels, and enter a vision of loveliness, a veritable
Juno. What fluid rhythm, what vibrations . . . and yet a
touch of that coarseness I find so piquant— I trembled like
a schoolboy! But the real surprise was still to come.
Housed in this ravishing exterior is no sordid Philistine
but a delicate, subtle spirit attuned to mine; in a word,
a connoisseur. Tales of my work have percolated through
her flunkies and plenipotentiaries, and she must see it
instanter. In a trice, the details are arranged— I am to bring
my best canvases to the executive mansion next Tuesday
for inspection. Only one cloud mars my bliss. As the house
is being plastered, the view is to be held in Madame's
boudoir, a pitifully small room which I fear is hardly ade-
quate to exhibit the larger oils. Perdition! . . . but we shall
make the best of it. I am in a frenzy of preparation, var-
nishing pictures, borrowing pomade for my hair, a hun*
dred distractions— I must fly.
I embrace you, my dear fellow,
P.S. One passage puzzled me in your last letter. How
could your patron's son have penetrated to the landlady's
room without climbing up the air-shaft? Curb his exuber-
ance, I implore you, and do not fail to send me a snap-
shot of the landlady.
Mataiea, May 19, 1897
My decision is irrevocable: I am through with painting.
I have a new mission, the extermination of the official
class and particularly of its wives. After that, the monas-
The betrayal was complete, catastrophic. I waited on
Mme. Dufresnoy afire with plans— a house in the Avenue
Matignon, a summer palace on the Bosphorus, a villa
at Chantilly. I am received by my benefactress in a
filmy black peignoir, eyes sparkling with belladonna. The
room is plunged in shadow; she prefers (sweet tyrant) to
examine the canvases by artificial light. I shrug at her
eccentricity, swallow a fine a Teau as a digestive, launch
into a short preamble about my work. Basta! Suddenly
we are in Stygian darkness and I am held in a clasp of
iron. "Madame," I entreat, "let us at least sit down and
talk this thing over." Enfin, she reluctantly disposed her-
self in my lap and we had just arrived at a rationale when
the door flew open and the Governor General rushed in.
I could have demolished the big tub of tripes with my
small finger, but he was escorted by a band of apaches,
armed to the teeth. I acquitted myself handily, neverthe-
less, and outside a discolored eye and a trifling greenstick
fracture, emerged an easy victor. Thanks to Madame's
intercession, I was given the most spacious room in the
lockup and the assignment of whitewashing the walls. It
is not painting, but working with new textures is good
Your letters, as always, remain my constant solace. If
I may presume on our friendship, though, please to omit
all further references to that miserable little brat, your
patron's son. I am not interested in his grimy amours, nor
anybody else's, for that matter. I have had enough of the
whole god-damned subject.
Heaven knows I don't want to sound gossipy,
but something rather important has been happening to
American advertising. In fact, it almost looks as if there
might be no American advertising one of these days.
Perhaps a few of you in the Older Business Boys' Divi-
sion will recall an advertisement which appeared in the
late twenties. It showed a well-known Russian princess
clasping a Knopf book and bore the starry-eyed admission,
"Mindful of my duty to the public, I am careful never to
be seen without a Borzoi book/' At that time I thought
I heard the muffled tread of the Jacquerie in the streets,
and I even went so far as to buy myself a pike suitable for
carrying heads. I guess it was merely a case of wishful
thinking. Great, fatuous booby that I was, I imagined
advertising would be destroyed from the outside. It won't;
it's going to bubble and heave and finally expire in the
arms of two nuns, like Oscar Wilde.
The opening note of the marche funebie was sounded
in an advertisement for Listerine tooth paste in a recent
issue of the American Home. It was a cartoon strip called
"What Put Patty in the Movies?" and its plot was as fol-
lows: Patty, a zestful little breastful, crouches on a beach,
daydreaming with her two chums. From her mouth issues
a balloon with the caption, "I read somewhere there's a
great call for photographers' models. Wouldn't I like to
be one . . . lots of money and a chance at the movies
maybe." "Why not, Patty?" urges Bob. "You'd be sure
to succeed. I'll get Dad to call up his photographer friend,
In less than two panels, Mr. Hess is breaking the bad
news to Patty. "I'm afraid you won't do, Miss Patty. Your
teeth are good, but not good enough. For camera work
they have to be perfect." To Miss Jones, Mr. Hess' secre-
tary, Patty sobs out her chagrin. "I've failed, Miss Jones . . .
and we needed the money so badly!" "Failed! Fiddle-
sticks!" counters Miss Jones briskly. "All you need to do
is use a special type of tooth paste that our best models
and screen stars use. listerine tooth paste is its name.
Try it two weeks . . . then come back."
Well, sir, you're probably psychic. "Three Weeks
Later— at the Studio" introduces the fifth picture, in
which Mr. Hess announces, "The job's yours, Miss Patty
... $50 a week. I can't believe you're the same girl. Your
teeth are simply perfect." "I'm so thankful, Mr. Hess,"
replies Patty, who is a bulldog for tenacity. "It may lead
to the movies. And all the credit is due to Miss Jones."
The sixth and last panel is headed "One Year Later." On
the observation platform of a train, surrounded by the
upturned faces of townsfolk, stands Patty, her smart tail-
leur festooned with orchids. "You're all so wonderful.
Good-bye! Good-bye!" she calls. "She'll click in Holly-
wood," observes Bob stoutly to Patty's girl chum, and it is
Patty's nameless girl chum whose answer should go echo-
ing down the corridors of time. "Maybe we'd better start
using listerine tooth paste too," she murmurs drearily.
"Anything to get out of this hick town. 79
The italics are mine, but the desperation is that of the
whole advertising confraternity. So all the old tactics have
finally broken down— wheedling, abuse, snobbery and ter-
ror. I look forward to the last great era in advertising, a
period packed with gloom, defeatism and frustration, in
which spectacles like the following will be a common-
(Scene: The combination cellar and playroom of the
Bradley home in Pelham Manor. Mr. and Mrs. Bradley
and their two children, Bobby and Susie, are grouped
about their new automatic oil burner. They are all in fault-
less evening dress, including Rover, the family Airedale. )
Bobby— Oh, Moms, Fm so glad you and Dads decided
to install a Genfeedco automatic oil burner and air con-
ditioner with the new self-ventilating screen flaps plus
finger control! It is noiseless, cuts down heating bills, anc?
makes the air we breathe richer in vita-ray particles!
Susie— Think of it! Actual experiments performed by
trained engineers under filtered water prove that certain
injurious poisons formerly found in cellars are actually
cut down to thirty-four per cent by switching to a Gen-
Mr. Bradley (tonelessly)— Well, I suppose any thing's
better than a heap of slag at this end of the cellar.
Mrs. Bradley— Yes, and thanks to Buckleboard, the
new triple-ply, satin-smooth, dirt-resisting wall plastic, we
now have an ugly little playroom where we can sit and
loathe each other in the evening.
Bobby— Hooray for Buckleboard! Since Dads made this
feedbin into a playroom, no more hanging around the liv-
ery stable with questionable acquaintances!
Mr. Bradley— Yes, we now have a livery stable right in
our own home. The initial expense was brutal, but the
money only gathered two and a half per centum in the
Bobby and Susie (munching candy bars)— Hooray!
Hooray for this new taste sensation!
Mrs. Bradley— Harvey, Fm worried about the chil-
dren. Don't you think they have too much energy?
Susie— Choc-Nugs are just loaded with energy, Moms!
These crackly nuggets of purest Peruvian cocoa, speckled
with full-flavored, rain-washed nut meats, call forth a
chorus of "Yums" from every wide-awake girl and boy!
Bobby— In Mexico it's "Viva el Choc-Nugo!" but in
America its "Hooray for Choc-Nugs!" Any way you pro-
nounce it, it is pronounced "Goodylicious" by millions of
Mr. Bradley— I see that I have fathered a couple of
Yahoos. . . . Bobby, answer the door.
Bobby— Had we installed a set of Zings, the new electric
chime, it would not be necessary for callers to wait outside
in the rain and sleet. . . .
Mr. Bradley— Answer the door or I will knock your
block off, you murdering little saw-toothed ape. (Bobby
goes to door, admits Mr. and Mrs. Fletcher and their three
children, attired in long halbriggan underwear. General
Mrs. Fletcher— Don't mind us, Verna, we just
dropped in to sneer at your towels. (Unfolding a towel)
My, they're so absorbent and fluffy, aren't they? You
know, they're made of selected fibres culled from high-
grade flat-tailed Montana sheep subject to rigid inspec-
tion by qualified sheep inspectors.
Mrs. Bradley (listlessly)— They fall apart in two days,
but we got tired of using blotters.
Mrs. Fletcher— Verna, I think it's about time you
and I had a heart-to-heart talk about your skin. You're as
rough and scaly as an old piece of birch-bark.
Mrs. Bradley— I know; it's my own fault. I neglected
my usual beauty cocktail.
Mrs. Fletcher— Skins, you know, are divided into
three types— cameo, butter-scotch, and mock nutria.
Yours defies classification.
Mrs. Bradley (miserably)— Oh, how can I win back
my Prince Charming?
Mrs. Fletcher— Why not follow the example of glam-
orous Mrs. Barney Kessler, socially prominent matron of
the Main Line?
Mrs. Bradley— What does she do?
Mrs. Fletcher— Each morning, on rising, she scrubs
her skin with an ordinary sink-brush. Then she gently pats
in any good brand of vanishing cream until Kessler dis-
appears to his office.
Mrs. Bradley— And then?
Mrs. Fletcher— I can't remember, but she's got a
complexion like a young girl.
Mr. Fletcher— Say, Harvey, make this test for your-
self. Do some brands of pipe tobacco irritate your tongue,
cause your eyeballs to capsize in your head? Then pack
your old briar with velvety Pocahontas Mixture and kno\v
true smoke-ease. After all, you have to put something
into your pipe. You can't just sit there like a bump on a
Mr. Bradley— I get along all right smoking old leaves
from my lawn.
Mr. Fletcher— Yes, but look at the fancy tin these
people give you. Remember that five hundred of these
tins and a fifty-word essay on "Early Kentish Brass Rub-
bings" entitle you to the Pocahontas Mixture vacation
offer, whereby you retire at sixty with most of your facul-
Mrs. Fletcher— Er— Fred, don't you think it's time
we. . . .
Mr. Fletcher— Now, Harriet, don't interrupt. Can't
you see I'm talking to Harvey Bradley?
Mrs. Fletcher (timidly)— I know, but there seems
to be about two feet of water in this cellar and it's rising
Mr. Bradley (sheepishly)— I guess I should have
specified Sumwenco Super-Annealed Brass Pipe through-
out. My contractor warned me at the time.
Mr. Fletcher (bailing like mad with his tin)— Well,
this is a pretty how-do-you-do.
Mrs. Bradley (comfortably)— At least, whatever else
happens, under the Central American Mutual Perpetual
Amortizational Group Insurance Plan our loved ones
need not be reduced to penury.
Mrs. Fletcher— What good is that? Our loved ones
are right here with us!
Mr. Bradley (mildly)— You don't tell me.
Mrs. Bradley— I always say the added protection is
worth the difference, don't you, Harvey? (She pats hei
husband's shoulder reassuringly as they all drown like rats
in a trap.)
SWEET AND HOT
Now that Jack Frost's magic brush has made
every dell a delight with delicate traceries of ice and snow,
inviting each of us to turn Wandervogel and roam the
woodland path with a dog in his haversack, what pulse
does not quicken? My pulse, sweetie, and don't forget it.
If anything, it slows down to a dead stop at the mere
thought. It is on days like these that I barricade the door
with my bureau, heap my stout walking shoes and parka
on the coals, and settle down by the oven with a plate of
cookies and the current issue of either The Cracker Bakei
or Metronome. Whatever energy I burn turning their
pages is replaced by the cookies, which in turn are replaced
by more cookies.
A pushover for crackers and sweet wafers from boy-
hood, I went along for years thinking I knew all there was
to know about cookies. When the talk at the club turned
to Fig Newtons, for instance, I could always command at-
tention and respectful glances from the older men by
describing a special kind of Fig Newton with bitter-choc-
olate icing I had seen. My little monograph on the muta-
tions of Social Teas and Coffee-Mallomars had attracted a
certain amount of attention, and I was preparing a defin-
itive paper on the Butter Thin. It wasn't genius or talent,
mind you; I was just better posted on the subject. You get
into this little dream world of your own, and then one
day, boom!, along comes The Cracker Balcer.
Perhaps "boom!" is too strong a word to describe the
way The Cracker Baker, published by the American Trade
Publishing Company, comes along. Maybe more of a
humming or droning sound, to blend with the measured,
heavy breathing of the reader as his eyes lose focus and
his head droops like a sun-flower. No matter how much
you adore Hydrox biscuits, it's pretty hard to take to
your bosom a machine that mixes, stamps, bakes, and
wraps twelve hundred of them a minute. Mother's fin-
gers, it seems, have given way to thousands of terrifying
presses which print cookies like newspapers under the
most hygienic and uninteresting conditions. In this
Monel-metal wilderness of cams, bushings, gears and
levers, the Question-and-Answer Department of The
Cracker Baker is a pillar of fire by day. Here the panic-
stricken baker, eyes rolling and teeth chattering, blabs out
his indiscretions and quivers under the lash of the editor's
scorn. Less bizarre than many is the plea which appeared
not long ago:
Editor, The Cracker Baker:
We are sending you a few of our soda biscuits. As you will
see they are full of fish mouths.
Can you tell me what is the cause of that and what we could
do to eliminate it.
Thanking you, we remain, B. C.
The editor conceals his agitation with some technical
fatuities about B.C. watching his yeast. B.C. can watch
his yeast from now till Christmas, but it is apparent to
anybody that he is coping with nothing more or less than
trolls. Somewhere along the line he has given offence to
the Little People, and they have put the finger on him. I
can't make out from his letter whether they are the small
gnomes with the red hats and the curly shoes, or the
larger, goblin type, but it is unmistakably the Good Folk
at work. It was distinctly unwise of him to squeal on them
to the editor of The Cracker Baker, but if he will leave a
large crumb cake and two dozen cinnamon buns (without
raisins, please) at my door every morning for a month,
I shall try to intercede in his behalf.
The plight of T. B., whose chronicle was printed in a
recent issue, is even more poignant:
Editor, The Cracker Baker:
I am writing you to see if you can perhaps help me. My bake
shop and store is next to an automobile accessory store. When-
ever the colder weather sets in these people sell a large quantity
of alcohol. From handling this and carrying it through the
store, the odor or smell penetrates through the walls into my
store. This is very annoying and my customers ask what smells.
Have you any suggestions as to what I could spray in my store
that would counteract the other odor and at the same time not
harm my cakes, etc. or if there is any other suggestion you can
make I would be glad to hear from you. T. B.
To suggest that T. B. spray his coffee rings and cup-
cakes with a scent like Arpege or Bellodgia is only to con-
fuse him, and the expense of spraying the customers
would be ruinous. Nor would it be feasible to lay down
a heavy barrage of dichloroethyl sulphide or chloropicrin
gas. Either of the latter would effectively counteract the
alcohol, but might show a tendency to eat the features
and the clothes off the customers. T. B/s best bet is to
negotiate with his fellow-craftsman, B. C, for the loan oi
his elves. Equipped with icing-guns and a barrel of marsh-
mallow, a raiding party of these nixies might bring the ac-
cessory people to heel. If T. B. will arrange to deliver a
dozen Schnecken and a Mocha layer cake to my home
during July, I might act as liaison officer on the deal.
No matter how horrid the predicament of these unfor-
tunate bakers, they are at ease in Zion compared to the
trumpet-players whose letters stud Metronome, the
monthly musical journal published at 113 West Fifty-
seventh Street, New York City. To the column called
'Trumpet Questions" come the most harrowing narra-
lives, of which the following is a fairly typical sample:
G. S., Los Angeles, Calif., states that he has a tendency to
Dlace his trumpet at a peculiar angle to his face and wishes to
enow if this is wrong, and is it advisable to change the position
He has been playing about five years and this habit became
! ormed within the past two years without him becoming
conscious of it.
On sustained notes higher than C (middle) he is extremely
lervous and his trumpet starts to shake, giving it a disagreeable
vavy tone. The base of the trouble seems to be in his lips, he
tates. These quiver and shake, thus making the trumpet move
lp and down.
Unlike the bakers, G. S. forgot to enclose a sample of
lis face, making it almost impossible to determine
vhether he is placing his trumpet at a peculiar angle to
t. If it is like that of most trumpet-players, however, he
lad better quit grumbling, as calling it a face too often will
not pass unchallenged. That symptom of the lips quiver-
ing can be remedied by pasting them together; the loss
to the profession would not be irreplaceable, as the med-
ical profession can always get more paste.
In the same number of Metronome, W. R., of Dolge-
ville, N. Y., complains as follows:
I am troubled with a lack of endurance when playing first
trumpet but when playing second trumpet this does not bother
me. I am playing with a ten-piece combination and have just
returned from a seven-weeks' engagement, playing every night.
I feel that I have had quite a bit of experience and practice
during the summer to get my lip in good shape as I have been
playing first trumpet in dance bands now for over a year.
Does smoking injure the lip?
Does playing with a dry lip make any difference in lip en-
durance? I use a concave rim mouthpiece and have played on
that for a year. Should my lip be used to the change by now?
Will you please tell me just how long it should take an
overage fellow of 15 to develop a strong lip?
Goodness gracious, W. R., not so fast— you'll have my
head in a whirl! Now first, about smoking. Of course it
won't injure your lip; that is, if you mean smoking mari-
juana. A man of fifteen like yourself ought to be good for
his twenty or thirty a day without any harmful effect.
Naturally, you may fall down once in a while, or drag your
left leg slightly, but that's a detail. As for playing with a
dry lip— not in public, old man. Remember, you're a big
boy now. If you're really in earnest about developing a
strong lip, there are a few simple rules. First, you'll have
to wipe off that farina, or zwieback, or whatever that un-
pleasant substance is you always have on it. Then you'll
have to practice hanging by your lip from branches, in-
creasing the height every day until it becomes really dan-
gerous. If the bough breaks, don't tighten up and get tense
■—just fall heavily, like a sack of meal. And finally, if you
possibly can, do me one favor. Fall on your trumpet, will
you? I know it's asking a lot, but it'll make me terribly
But it is the May issue of Metronome which carries the
report of an anonymous band leader so tragic that it lies
almost too deep for tears:
This leader writes that his trumpet section is suffering from
the following faults: split tones, uncertain attack, inability to
hit high tones, poor vibrato, no endurance, poor phrasing, slow
execution, no vibrato, and inability to read.
Even the trumpet editor, who has seen trouble as only
a trumpet editor can, throws up his hands:
Evidently the most expedient way out of your difficulty is»
to get an entire new trumpet section.
And as for me, I'm going to get an entire new plate of
SEEDLINGS OF DESIRE
Brent Carstairs, Broadway's foremost
producer, lifted a bored black eyebrow in languid amuse-
ment and bestowed a tolerant stare through sleepy eyelids
on Moot Point, his general manager. His long, sensitive
fingers, the fingers of a poet and dreamer he had recently
acquired at auction, toyed with the skull of a soubrette
which served him as a paperweight.
"This little— ah— stock actress of yours is all very well,"
he threw at Point, "but can't you see, Moot, the part calls
for a woman of the world. . . "
"Ach, mein Gott!" groaned Point in his comical Ger-
man dialect, flinging his toupee on the rug and stamping
on it. "He calls Gaby Papadakis a stock actress! I tell you,
Brent, nefer haf I seen such youth, such fire, such . . ."
Carstairs exchanged a quizzical glance with his manserv-
ant, fitted it into an ivory holder and lit it abstractedly. A
muscle flickered in his lean jaw, and as its sound died out
in the great room, Carstairs arose.
"All right, Moot, 111 see her," he said decisively. "Pack
my bags, Eno. Fm leaving immediately for Wilkes-
"Shall I pack your flannels, sair?" queried the inscrut-
"No, never mind them," waved Carstairs irritably. It
was characteristic of the man that he usually ate a few
swatches of flannel whilst traveling on trains. But today
he was nervous, distraught; with the opening of Becky s
Blintzes scarcely a week off and no leading woman in view,
he had even left a plate of tasty green billiard felt un-
touched at breakfast. Eno shook his head and went off
"Faix, and it's th' divil a bit he's been afther eatin',"
growled Eno. "Th' loikes av thim shpalpeen play-acthors
traipsin' in ivry hour av th' day an' noight a man'd gang
fair daft, begorra!" And with many a rueful shake of his
head, the faithful old retainer began to prepare for hi»
Gaby Papadakis gave her saucy little nose an extra fillip
with the powder puff and threw herself a final admiring
glance in the mirror. She saw there a retrousse nose and
across its bridge a dash of freckles; the next instant they
were gone, without even bothering to close the door be-
hind them. Old Pop, the stage-door watchman, beamed
admiringly as she stripped off her street clothes and
buckled on the Carnegie foundation which enhanced her
"Some feller from the city out in front tonight, Gaby,"
confided the old gaffer mysteriously, sucking on his corn-
pone with toothless gums. "Cal'late ez how yew won't be
with us much longer."
"Why, Pop!" chided Gaby with a merry twinkle.
"Who'd want poor little me in New York? I'd be so fright-
"Your cue, Gaby!" She snatched up a long rope of
artificial pears and strung them about her neck with a gay
little laugh. Then, with pounding heart, she raced down
the winding iron stairway and took her place in the wings.
The opening chorus was just swelling from the orchestra:
We greet you tonight with hearts that are light
At the Wilkes-Barre Boat Club Show,
We know you'll enjoy all the jokes we employ,
Fox they're all quite new, you know;
Singing, dancing, hearts entrancing,
Fascinating, captivating boys are we, are we. . „ .
From the first moment Brent Carstairs descried Gaby
Papadakis he could not help placing her on a pedestal
and fumigating her. Only nineteen, there was a sort of
silken luster about her which fell to her knees in undulat-
ing folds. On her dainty egg-shaped head was massed a
crop of auburn curls; the cucumbers she had grown there
the previous summer were forgotten in the pulsing
rhythm of the moment. Suffice it to say that when the
curtain fell on the last act, in which Gaby went to face
the firing-squad amid a fanfaronade of shoehorns, Car-
stairs' decision was sealed.
Then we may expect you Friday morning?'' Brent
Carstairs' voice was crisp as he folded the signed contract
and stowed it into his plaid-back ulster.
"Y-yes," stammered Gaby. A blush mantled her cheek
as the courtly impresario stooped and kissed her hand in
two-four time. Long after he had gone she sat staring at
his elegantly engraved card. Brent Carstairs! The name
swam before her eyes. Ah, youth, youth! Canst thy bright
pennons embossed with Hope's heraldry survive the blasts
of thy discontent? The words of the immortal poet Pea*
body came back to her in their full poignancy.
Gaby Papadakis stood in the swirling confusion of
Grand Central hugging her shabby portmanteau to her,
Wilkes-Barre was far behind now; she had burned he!
boats, and the first step was to hunt up a doctor to pre
scribe a soothing lotion for them. This done, Gaby re-
paired to a nearby eating-house and made a delicious
breakfast of oatcreel and meap, flanked by hot biscuits and
bunny. Slicing down her tired feet with a steaming
draught of coffee, Gaby hurried to the offices of Brent
Carstairs. The distinguished producer looked up from
slitting his morning mail. A pleasant smile played around
the corners of his desk.
"Well, Miss Minx/' he began with mock severity, "are
you ready for work— hard work? How are your muscles?"
He gave her calf a playful squeeze.
"I— I forgot to bring them along," faltered Gaby, col^
"You must send for them instanter," directed Car-
stairs. "We don't want any shirkers in Beckefs Blintzes,
Miss Papadakis. I think you had better begin your fencing
lessons immediately/' He pressed one of the buttons on
his vest and "Mops," the red-headed but irrepressible
"Take this young lady over to Beppo for a fencing les-
son," he ordered. "Oh ? by the way, Miss Papadakis, have
you found quarters yet? No? Let me see— you had better
use these for the time being." He handed her a roll of
quarters and stood up. Gaby attempted to thank him, but
her fingers were all thumbs. Carstairs rubbed a blue and
freshly shaven cheek against her soft one and returned it
to his coat-pocket.
"Now run along to your fencing lesson, child/'
All that afternoon, under Beppo's watchful supervision,
Gaby learned something of the art of fencing; how to
drill the holes, the proper way to string barbed wire and,
finally, a few choice words to write on board fences.
The next day, under the able guidance of Abel Guydens,
Carstairs' dance director, she was initiated into the mys-
teries of Terpsichore. Each night she rubbed her aching
back with Arnica, her colored maid, in close attendance.
Mealtimes were spent closely scanning her lines. Every
time he scanned them Brent Carstairs felt surer that he
had not made a mistake. Within a week he gave up eating
altogether and was spending his entire lunch hour just
scanning her lines.
The opening night of Becky's Blintzes repaid his faith
in Gaby. She was vivid, vibrant, as sure-footed as a moun-
tain goat. All her entrances were timed to the minute,
and twice when she spoke a hush fell over the house and
had to be removed by the ushers. Slowly the disbelief
faded from the faces of the critics and was replaced by a
placidity, a tenderness so intense that it could only be
called slumber. For three minutes after the curtain no
sound could be heard. Carstairs, astute entrepreneur that
he was, finally sent the stagehands through the audience
beating tin pans. Then at last jaded and blase New York
first nighters were thrilled to the core. A great reverberat-
ing snore rolled like a mighty wave from the mezzanine
and broke at Gaby's feet. On its surface floated odds and
ends of vegetables, stewed fruit and bits of pork fat. Not
since the elder Kean had Gotham seen such an ovation.
Gaby, flinging her bouquet of cardiac roses to the theater*
goers, kissed her hand prettily to the boxes and withdrew
to the flies, who were eagerly buzzing about her in ad-
miration. Brent Carstairs was waiting, flushed and trium-
phant. In vain rival producers hammered on the door with
tempting contracts; red-faced advertising men, their eyes
bloodshot from rich living, stormed her dressing-room
with sample jars of cold cream for endorsement. But it
was useless— New York's most sought-after actress had
vanished into thin air.
Three miles away and four hours later, on the deck of
Carstairs' private yacht, Gaby and Brent faced each other
over demi-tasse. In the distance twinkled the yellow lights
of Stapleton, Staten Island. At length Carstairs' voice,
hoarse with passion, broke the silence.
"You remember our bargain?" he asked. There was a
gleam in his small piggish eyes now which frightened her;
she arose impulsively and went to the rail, drinking in
the beauty of the night and attempting to marshal her
thoughts. Brent's voice was at her elbow now, caressing it.
"Why do you repulse me, Gaby baby?" he begged.
"You've been as cold-blooded as a fisk lately."
"Have I? Then it's time for you to retire," she told him
with a light shrug. He uttered a savage laugh and at-
tempted to sweep her into his arms. Gaby stiffened, sens-
ing the innate brutality of the man. Brent's eyes narrowed
and disappeared, but before he could make further over-
yres, a pair of brawny young arms like iron pinioned his.
He wheeled, his jaw dropping. A grim young face with
a tangle of blond curls above it was looking into his eyes
"Oxmoor!" blenched Carstairs involuntarily.
"The same/' said the young man. "You thought you'd
left me behind, didn't you? You forgot that I could follow
you in my amphibian." And he felled Carstairs to the
deck with a single blow like an Oxmoor had felled an in-
vading Persian at the battle of Salami three thousand
"Lloyd!" What a world of relief Gaby threw into that
syllabub! He took her in his arms and crushed her to him.
"I got your telephone message just in time, lover,"
Lloyd said huskily. "Charlotte was at Hurley's early this
afternoon and found Donald. He confessed everything."
"Then you found the . . ."
"Here they are, safe and sound," he said simply, draw-
ing the garnets from his necktie. "The detectives didn't
think of looking there."
Neither of them spoke, for somehow words seemed
strangely banal against the tropic beauty of the lagoon.
Captain Stannard, a white patch in the darkness, coughed
"Steam's up, sir, awaiting your orders."
"Take the wheel and relieve him, Jack." Lloyd Ox-
moor's voice was gentle and almost inaudible, for his lips
were grazing Gaby Papadakis's hair. "Head her toward the
South Seas, Stannard; I've found heart's-ease at the end
of the rainbow, old man."
LIGHTS, ACTION, CAMERA!
To the casual reader, there was nothing in yes-
terday's New York Times to distinguish it from any nor-
mal edition of that newspaper. Caught like flies in the
amber of the daily screen jottings, however, were two
items which easily outweighed anything on the front
page. 'Virginia Dale, Esther Fernandez, Dana Dale, and
Martha O'Driscoll," ran the first, "have been loaned by
Paramount to Harry Donahue, independent producer,
to appear in a fashion short, which will be photographed
in color in the Grand Canyon . . . the film will be exhib-
ited in department stores throughout the country on a
rental basis." Hard on the heels of the first came this
second tidbit: "Gloria Jean, child songstress at Universal,
will make a personal appearance at Gimbel Brothers at
11 a.m. today to discuss her favorite sports and life in
Aesthetes may decry this rapproachement between art
and commerce, this spiritual wedding of L. B. Mayer and
R. H. Macy, but I feel the match was made in heaven.
The day is dawning when film and department store may
fuse into a single superb medium, with mighty themes
like "Resurrection" and "Gone with the Wind" har-
nessed directly to the task of merchandising winter sports-
wear and peanut-fed hams. Once self-consciousness dis-
appears, January white sales, midsummer clearances, and
current specials will be neatly embodied in the pictures
themselves, and it should surprise nobody to hear Miss
Loy address Mr. Powell thus in some future "Thin Man":
"Why, hello, dear, long time no see. Yes, this divine
mink coat, tailored by mink-wise craftsmen from specially
selected skins, is only $578.89 at Namm's in Brooklyn,
Porch & Schlagober's in Dallas, the Boston Store in
Cleveland, the Cleveland Store in Boston, and Kerosene
Brothers in Denver." As for the legitimate theater, it will
probably preserve its usual stiff-necked attitude for a
while, but in time it must adapt itself to the external pres-
sure of pictures and radio.
As little more than a trial balloon in this direction, I
append the following blueprint for a new department-
store dramaturgy. In the event of a production, I suggest
a week's tryout in Philadelphia, at some house like Straw-
bridge & Clothier's, before bringing it into Wanamaker's
or Hearns for the New York run:
Scene: The music room in the palatial villa of Mrs. Laf-
cadio Mifflin at Newport. Mrs. Mifflin, a majestic woman
in a slim-pin Bemberg coiselet well boned over the dia-
phragm (Stern Brothers, fourth floor), is seated at the
console of her Wurlitzer, softly wurlitzing to herself. Mr.
Mifflin, in a porous-knit union suit from Franklin Simons
street floor, is stretched out by the fire like a great, tawny
cat. Inasmuch as there is a great, tawny cat stretched out
alongside him, also wearing a porous-knit union suit, it is
not immediately apparent which is Mifflin. Enter Celeste,
a maid, in a shadow silhouette girdle and bra (Junior
Misses, Lord & Taylor 9 fifth floor) . She carries a note on
Mrs. Mifflin— Hello, Celeste. What's new in the serv-
Celeste— Divil a bit. It's been sittin' on the lap av
Moike, the polisman, Oi've been, bad cess to the murth-
Mrs. Mifflin— Have you and Mike had words then?
Celeste— No, Oi loike the larrikin all roight, but Oi've
me doubts as to his sincerity. Oi suspect the craythur av
havin' a woif e and two childer, alanna.
Mrs. Mifflin— Then brush him off, lest you become
involved in a bigamous action. (Taking the note) My,
what attractive stationery! Eaton, Crane & Pike (Bloom*
ingdale's mezzanine), isn't it?
Celeste (coarsely)— It ain't Eaton, Crane & Pike's
Mrs. Mifflin— That will do, Celeste. I obscenity in
the obscenity of your obscenity. (Celeste goes, Mrs.
Mifflin opens note.) Oh, how provoking!
Mifflin— What's the matter, dear?
Mrs. Mifflin— Our big gray gelding kicked one of the
grooms in a fit of temper.
Mifflin— Better sell the brute. He hurt two stableboys
Mrs. Mifflin— No, that was a horse of a different
choler. (Thoughtfully) Martin, I'm worried.
Mifflin— What about?
Mrs. Mifflin— Our daughter Gisele, yclept Tucky,
As you know, she has conceived an unfortunate attach-
ment for a barber. Inquiries I have caused to be made
reveal the man to be little better than a fortune-hunter.
Mifflin— This is alarming news. As you know, her en«
gagement to Stacy Bonbright IV was a foregone con-
Mrs. Mifflin— You mean the brilliant young aviatoi
and six-goal man whose athaletic career at Bowdoin and
subsequent speculations in Wall Street have made him
the catch of the season?
Mifflin— The same.
Mrs. Mifflin— Martin, this tawdry infatuation with a
barber must be terminated.
Mifflin— How did she first meet this— this person?
Mrs. Mifflin— It was a typical Tucky Mifflin esca-
pade. Headstrong child that she is, she refused to have
her hair washed in any one of several department-store
salons where courteous attendants and sympathetic serv-
ice insure satisfaction. Instead, she visited an establish-
ment upstairs over a poolroom and encountered the coif-
feur in question.
Mifflin— How to resolve this perplexing state of
Mrs. Mifflin— I have a plan. Why not consult our
favorite department store? As you know, nationwide
credit facilities maintain a close surveillance on the char-
acter and reliability of customers. Should this Luigi, as he
styles himself, have come under their scrutiny—
Mifflin— Capital. (He picks up a tomato can con-
nected by a length of waxed string with New York.)
Hello, Central, give me the credit bureau of my favorite
department store. . . . Hello? This is Martin Mifflin.
What information have you on a party named Luigi?
. . . Yes? . . . Yes . . . Indeed. Thank you.
Mrs. Mifflin (anxiously)— Were our apprehensions
Mifflin— Fully. This scalawag who has ied Gis&le
down the garden path is none other than Mike, the quon-
dam policeman currently laying siege to Celeste. As she
feared, the rogue has a wife and two children. But thanks
to the watchdog who never sleeps (organized retail credit
investigation), our child is safe. (The door opens and
Gisele bursts in, accompanied by Stacy Bonbright IV.)
Gisele— Oh, Mother, what a little goose you must
think me! Fortunately, I discovered my error in time and
married Stacy Bonbright IV.
Mifflin— Take her, my boy. You've earned her, as
well as this sight draft for several million dollars.
Stacy (warmly)— Thanks, sport.
Gisele— How do you like my wedding tailleur, Mother?
Mrs. Mifflin— It's a heller. Altaian's, of course?
Gisele— Yes, and available in nineteen different shades
—among them wine, russet, beige, peach, grackle, stone
liver, lover, blubber, blabber and clabber.
Mifflin— And now, children, what are your honey-
moon plans? Hot Springs, Placid? Sun Valley?
Gisele (dimpling)- Not on your tintype, Father. Just
plain, old-fashioned Saks.
BLOCK THAT KICK!
I guess I'm just an old mad scientist at bot-
tom. Give me an underground laboratory, half a dozen
atom-smashers, and a beautiful girl in a diaphanous veil
waiting to be turned into a chimpanzee, and I care not
who writes the nation's laws. You'll have to leave my
meals on a tray outside the door because I'll be working
pretty late on the secret of making myself invisible, which
may take me almost until eleven o'clock. Oh, yes, and
don't let's forget one more thing. I'll need a life subscrip-
tion to a new quarterly journal called Captain Future,
Wizard of Science, a bright diadem on the forehead of
Better Publications, 22 West Forty-eighth Street, New
As one who triggered a disintegrator with Buck Rogers
and could dash off a topographical map of Mongo or Dale
Arden with equal facility, I thought in my pride and ar-
rogance I knew all there was to know about astronomical
adventure. It was something of a shock, therefore, to find
out several days back that I was little more than a slip-
pered pantaloon. Beside Captain Future, Wizard of Sci-
ence, Flash Gordon and the Emperor Ming pale to a
couple of nursery tots chewing on Holland rusk.
The novelette in which this spectacular cabaUcro
makes his bow to "scientification" fans opens with no
fumbling preamble or prosy exposition. Into the office
of James Carthew, President of the Earth Government,
staggers a giant ape, barely recognizable by the President
as John Sperling, his most trusted secret agent. The luck-
less investigator had been ordered to Jupiter to look into
a complaint that some merry-andrew was causing atavism
among the Jovians, but apparently had got badly jobbed.
Before Carthew can intervene, a frightened guard drills
the ape man with a flare-pistol, and in his dying breath the
latter lays the blame for his predicament squarely at th^
door of a mysterious being he calls the Space Emperor.
As you may well imagine, Carthew is all of a tizzy. He im-
mediately instructs his secretary to send for Captain
Future in the ringing phrase, "Televise the meteorological
rocket-patrol base at Spitzbergen. Order them to flash the
magnesium flare signal from the North Pole." Personally,
I think Carthew might have softened this whiplike com-
mand with "And just for the hell of it, why don't you try
the Princeton Club?" but perhaps I delve too deeply. In
any event, the perpetual uranium clock has hardly ticked
off two hours before Captain Future (or Curt Newton, to
call him by his given name) appears on the escarpment
with one of the most endearing speeches in my experi-
"You know my assistants," Curt Newton said shortly,
"Crag the robot, Otho the android, and Simon Wright,
the Living Brain. We came from the moon full speed
when I saw your signal. What's wrong?"
Fiction teems with sinister escorts and everybody has
his favorite, but Captain Future's three-man mob leaves
the worst of them kissed off and frozen against ths
A weird shape had just leaped onto the balcony. It was a
manlike figure, but one whose body was rubbery, boneless-
looking, blank-white in color. He wore a metal harness, and
his long, slitted green unhuman eyes peered brightly out of an
alien white face. Following this rubbery android, or synthetic
man, came another figure, equally as strange— a giant metal
robot who strode across the balcony on padded feet. He
towered seven feet high. In his bulbous metal head gleamed a
pair of photoelectric eyes. The robot's left hand carried the
handle of a square transparent box. Inside it a living brain was
housed. In the front of the case were the Brain's two glittering
glass lens-eyes. Even now they were moving oh their flexible
metal stalks to look at the President.
At this juncture I took time out to moisten my lips
with the tip of my tongue, retrieved my own eyeballs, and
plunged on. Captain Future himself was somewhat more
tailored than his comrades, in fact quite swagger. "His
unruly shock of red hair towered six feet four above the
floor, and his wide lithe shoulders threatened to burst the
jacket of his gray synthesilk zipper-suit/' In pulp fiction it
is a rigid convention that the hero's shoulders and the
heroine's balcon constantly threatens to burst their bonds,
a possibility which keeps the audience in a state of tense
expectancy. Unfortunately for the fans, however, recent
tests reveal that the wisp of chiffon which stands between
the publisher and the postal laws has the tensile strength
of drop-forged steel.
To acquaint the reader more fully with "that tall, cheer-
ful, red-haired young adventurer of the ready laugh and
flying fists, the implacable Nemesis of all oppressors and
exploiters of the System's human and planetary races,"
the author interrupts his smoking narrative with a brief
dossier. In the year 1990, the brilliant young Earth biol-
ogist Roger Newton, aided by the living brain of Simon
Wright ("the greatest brain in scientific history"), had
unravelled the secret of artificial life. Now, certain dark
forces headed by one Victor Corvo were determined to
appropriate Newton's secret. To confound him, Roger
Newton proposed to Elaine, his wife, and the Living
Brain that they conceal themselves on the moon.
"But the moon!" Elaine exclaimed, deep repulsion
shadowing her eyes. "That barren, airless globe that no
one ever visits!" Elaine's dainty disgust is pardonable;
Far Rockaway out of season could not have been more
painfully vieux ;eu. A few weeks, nevertheless, see the
little company snugly housed under the surface of Tycho
crater upon the moon, where its number is swelled by the
addition of the infant Curt and Grag the robot, whom
Roger and the Living Brain construct in their spare time
of neurons and nails and puppy dogs' tails. Eventually,
still another fruit of this intellectual union— Otho, the
synthetic android— is capering about the laboratory. Just
as Newton is on the verge of returning to earth, up turns
Public Bad Penny No. 1, Victor Corvo, and slays him and
his wife. When the Brain assures him vengeance will be
swift, Corvo hurls the taunt supreme at the preserved
scientist: "Don't try to threaten me, you miserable bodi-
less brain! I'll soon silence you—" He stops throwing his
weight around soon enough when Grag and Otho burst
in, and, directed by the Brain, rub him out effectively if
none too tidily.
Dying, Elaine Newton entrusts Curt to the care of the
trio in a scene which must affect the sensibilities of the
'Tell him to war always against those who would pervert
science to sinister ambition/' whispered Elaine. "I will tel]
him/' promised the Brain, and in its toneless metallic voice
was a queer catch.
The guardians justify Elaine's faith in them to a de-
gree; by the time Curt has attained his majority, he is one
lovely hunk of boy, a hybrid of Leonardo da Vinci and
Dink Stover. From then on, as Captain Future, Curt
ranges the solar system with his pals in an asteroidal super-
ship, the Comet 7 avenging his folks and relentlessly wag-
ing war on what the author is pleased to call "inter-
But to return to our muttons, if so prosaic a term can be
applied to the streamlined quartet. Speeding outward into
space toward Jovopolis, chief Earthman colony on
Jupiter, Captain Future plucks haunting music from his
twenty-string Venusian guitar while Grag and Otho tend
the controls and the Living Brain burrows into textbooks
for a clue to the atavism. Their snug Kaffeeklatsch is
blasted when a piratical black space-cruiser suddenly
looms across the Comet's bows and attempts to ambush
the party, but Curt's proton beams force the attacker
down on Callisto, outermost of Jupiter's four biggest
moons. The boys warp in alongside and Grag prepares
to rip open the jammed door of the pirate craft so his
master may question the miscreants:
Grag's big metal fingers were removable. The robot rapidly
unscrewed two of them and replaced them with small drills
which he took from a kit of scalpels, chisels, and similar tools
carried in a little locker in his metal side. Then Grag touched
a switch on his wrist. The two drills which had replaced two of
his fingers whirled hummingly. He quickly used them to drill
six holes in the edge of the ship's door. Then he replaced the
drills with his fingers, hooked six fingers inside the holes he
The rest is brute strength, a department in which Grag
is pre-eminent. Inside are Jon Orris and Martin Skeel,
whose names instantly tip them off as wrong guys. Yet it is
impossible not to be moved by Orris's pathetic confes-
sion: "Skeel and I have criminal records. We fled out
here after we got into a murder scrape on Mars/' They
admit under pressure that they are creatures of the Space
Emperor, though actually they have never seen him.
"He's always concealed in a big, queer black suit, and he
speaks out of it in a voice that don't sound human to
me/' Skeel says.
Time, even on Callisto, is a-wastin', and nimbly dodg-
ing a plague of creeping crystals which bids fair to anni-
hilate them, the space-farers resume their course. On their
arrival at Jovopolis, Otho the android disguises himself as
Orris and repairs to that worthy's hut to await the Space
Emperor and overpower him so that Captain Future can
steal up and clap the darbies on him. Arriving at the ren-
dezvous, the Emperor promptly makes himself invisible
and Curt leaps through him, only to sprawl on his finely
Recovering from this contretemps with his usual
sunny equanimity, Curt hastens to the mansion of the
governor, Sylvanus Quale, to reconnoitre. Here he en-
counters the heart interest, a plump little cabbage named
Joan Randall, who is head nurse to the chief planetary
physician. Lucas Brewer, a shifty radium magnate, Mark
Cannig, his mine superintendent, and Eldred Kells, the
vice-governor, are also at the mansion. It is apparent at
once to the cognoscenti that any one of these worthies is
the Space Emperor, and with no personal bias other than
that his name had a particularly sneaky sound, I put my
money on Eldred Kells. Fifty pages later I was proved
right, but not before I had been locked in an atavism ward
with Curt and Joan, flung into a pit by the green flipper-
men, and nibbled by giant six-foot rats called "diggers"
(a surprisingly mild name for a giant six-foot rat, by the
way). But even such hazards, for all their jewelled prose,
cannot compare with the description of the main street
Here were husky prospectors in stained zipper-suits, furtive,
unshaven space-bums begging, cool-eyed interplanetary gam-
blers, gaunt engineers in high boots with flare-pistols at their
belts, bronzed space-sailors up from Jovopolis for a carousal in
the wildest new frontier-town in the System.
And so, all too soon for both Joan Randall and myself,
comes the hour of parting with "the big red-head/' as the
author shakily describes Curt in a final burst of emotion.
In the next issue, Captain Future and his creepy con-
stabulary will doubtless be summoned forth again to com-
bat some horror as yet to be devised. Meanwhile I like to
think of his lighthearted rebuke to Otho the android, al-
ready chafing against inactivity:
"Sooner or later, there'll be another call from Earth, and
then I hope there's action enough for you, you crazy coot/'
There may be another call, Curt, but it won't come
from Baby. Right now all he wants is a cup of hot milk and
fourteen hours of shut-eye. And if it's all the same to
you, he'll do his sleeping with the lights on.
ADORABLE. TAXABLE YOU
Lord love you, child, I am only a lantern-jawed
individual with progressive myopia caused by attempting
to cope with the current literary output, and I certainly
don't want to usurp any reviewer's job in the Sunday
book section. But when I see an authentic human docu-
ment go begging while Messrs. Duffus, Adams and Jack
whoop up the latest trilogy, I could spit. . . . Now, listen
to me, Vardis Fisher and Jules Romains, you stop sulking
in that corner. This is the last time Nanny ever takes you
to a party.
If "Income Tax," by David Joseph, C.P.A. (Authentic
Publications Co., New York, twenty-five cents), has re-
ceived less than critical acclaim, its fate at the hands of
the consumer is much more gratifying. It was selling like
hot cakes the day I got my copy at a cut-rate drugstore; in
fact, a stack of hot cakes nearby was entirely ignored and
fast becoming cold cakes while customers fought with
each other around a dwindling pile of Mr. Joseph's "In-
come Tax." In a speculation worthy of Daniel Drew, I
finally secured one from an elderly party in bombazine
by trading a two-volume "History of Flagellation" and
half a chocolate malted. I still think I came off top dog,
and the feeling must have been wide-spread, for on learn-
ing of the incident, the eminent bibliophile Dr. A. S. W.
Rosenbach declared, "He came off top dog."
It is well to be forewarned that the general effect of
"Income Tax" is closely akin to that of inhaling dental
gas, unless you are the sort to whom tax-free covenant
bonds, fiduciaries, and Canal Zone retirement funds are
meat and drink. Only when Mr. Joseph turns to his files
for actual visual examples— case histories, so to speak—
does his book come alive, and then with a vigor and bounce
unmatched in Freud. And as if the lives of James Tax-
payer and John and Frances Wedd were not vivid enough
already, the author presents them in facsimile income-
tax returns, a device any novelist would have given his
Windsor tie to anticipate.
Form 1040 A, a year in the life of James Taxpayer, finds
him living quietly in the Bronx, working as pianist in a
band— whether sweet, boogie-woogie, New Orleans, or
Chicago style the return neglects to set forth. Judging from
his somewhat colorless name, however, and the twenty-
six dollars he contributed to "Non-sectarian Church/' I
see James as a sallow young man given to lush interpreta-
tions of "Beautiful Ohio," with pianola effects in the man-
ner of Adam Carroll. The band is clearly a five-piece com-
bination whose members put on funny hats about nine-
thirty, and James, for his specialty, plays "Margie" as it
might be done by a Swede, a Chinese, and so forth.
All in all, a respectable if prosaic citizen— until you
begin analyzing his income and deductions. Then you dis-
cover from Schedule A that James received $2,600 in
1940 from something called Dance Corp., at 1463 East
Eleventh Street, New York City. The firm is undeniably
solvent; completely so, since it appears to be doing busi-
ness in thirty-two feet of water in the middle of the East
River. The pattern becomes even more complex with the
deduction of $40 for "cost of substitute in band." Ap-
praising James' services at five dollars an evening (prob-
ably much too high), it is obvious he was missing from
the aggregation eight times during the past year. Drunk?
Possibly. Muggled up, more than likely— an impression
irresistibly borne out by the deductions in Schedule F:
"Portfolio stolen, $35" and "Fire loss (not covered by in-
surance), $112." Quite patiently, James had been smok-
ing a stick of tea in some rib joint and in a burst of
generosity presented a total stranger with his portfolio,
which was full of piano scores. After which he promptly
went home and set fire to his bed, if not his mother. A
bad lot, you may depend on it, and a constant source of
aggravation to some lovely old white-haired booking
The joint return filed by John and Frances Wedd also
reveals an existence at once humdrum and bizarre. The
income of this apparently irreproachable pair was derived
from a variety of sources: John's salary as a teacher, a snug
little annuity, several hundred shares of stock, and oddly
enough, a matter of $9,994.92 rising out of a business
known as Importers & Exporters, located at 2 Export
Street, New York. It would seem from this hasty survey
that John is that rare amalgam of dreamy pedagogue and
ruthless business man in whose company it is advisable
to keep your wallet pinned inside your shirt. The nature
of the business transacted by John's firm is fairly obscure.
For a while I thought he might be selling silver foxes
from unmarked trucks, but sober reflection and a natu-
rally sensual bias convinced me that he is engaged in what
the League of Nations Committee euphemistically refers
to as the South American export trade. The concept of a
school teacher exporting comely lassies to Buenos Aires is
undeniably romantic, but what is meant by the deduction
on Line 6 of Schedule D, ''Clearances, Charges and Gar-
bage, $7,417.21?" It seems unfair. I, who lead a much
more upright life than John, have never been allowed any
substantial deduction for garbage, and even if the word
should have been "cartage," that hardly alters the case.
Whatever expenses John incurs in moving his young
wards are normal overhead and definitely a part of the
taxable total. Not a very good example to set our Latin
neighbors, John, you dirty chiseler, you.
I expect to be accused of distortion and formulating too-
facile moral judgments, but the financial complexities of
the Wedds are as nothing compared to their home life.
Behind a fagade of bourgeois domesticity there was en-
acted in 1940 as feverish a scene as any Alfred Hitchcock
ever directed. For in that year the Wedds were domiciled
at 1 Sunset Park, in Brooklyn, sharing their brick two-
family house with a tenant who paid them $900 in rent.
The detail is insignificant until, in Schedule C, you en-
counter the chilling deduction 'Tainting and decorating
tenant, $75/' Extraordinary things have been known to
take place in Brooklyn, as witness "Arsenic and Old
Lace," but I submit that Mr. Karloff must bend the knee
to John and Frances Wedd. It needs no lurid imagination
to envision the tableau: the tenant, powerless under the
influence of a mysterious drug prepared in a basement
laboratory by John Wedd; laughing Frances and more
serious-minded John fussing over their color cards, she,
with her woman's instinct for gay plumage, trying to per
suade her husband to stipple the tenant twilight blue; and,
merely as an accent in the darkened room, the tenant's
eyeballs gleaming whitely in his head. . . .
This is presumably Mr. Joseph's first book, and if he has
his faults, so did Poe and Henry James. His prose is child-
ish, his grammar unspeakable, and his point of view ma-
terialistic, but I loved every word, even the ones that made
me sleepy. Here is a book for youngsters from nine to
ninety, for anybody who likes to hold on to his money. It
is dedicated, says a simple foreword, "to the purpose of
giving the public what it needs— when it needs it— in the
form in which it needs it— and at a price which all can
afford." And with French vermouth and nose candy sell-
ing at their current quotations, Mr. Joseph, you've got the
only game in town.
A COUPLE OF
I. ARTHUR EOBEB
Picture to yourself a ruddy-cheeked, stocky
sort of chap, dressed in loose but smelly tweeds, a stubby
briar between his teeth (it has resisted the efforts of the
best surgeons to extract it), with a firm yet humorous
mouth, generous to a fault, ever-ready for a flagon of nut-
brown ale with his cronies, possessing the courage of a
lion, the tenderness of a Florence Nightingale, and the
conceit of a diva, an intellectual vagabond, a connoisseur
of first editions, fine vintages, and beautiful women, well
above six feet in height and distinguished for his pallor,
a dweller in the world of books, his keen gray eye belying
the sensual lip beneath, equally at home browsing through
the bookstalls along Fourth Avenue and rubbing elbows
(his own elbows) in the smart literary salons of 57th
Street, a rigid abstainer and non-smoker who lives entirely
on dehydrated fruits, cereals, and nuts, rarely leaving his
monastic cell nowadays except to dine at the Salmagundi;
an intimate of Cocteau, Picasso, Joyce and Lincoln Kir-
stein, a dead shot, a past master of the foils and the Inter-
national Woodmen of the World, dictating his novels,
plays, poems, short stories, commedias delY arte, aphor-
isms, and ripostes at lightning speed to a staff of underpaid
secretaries, an expert judge of horseflesh, the owner of a
model farm equipped with the most slovenly dairy de-
vices— a man as sharp as a razor, as dull as a hoe, as clean
as a whistle, as tough as nails, as white as snow, as black as
the raven's wing, as poor as Job, a man up with the lark,
down on your toes, and gone with the wind. A man kind
and captious, sweet and sour, fat and thin, tall and short,
racked with fever, plagued by the locust, beset by
witches, hagridden, cross-grained, fancy-free, a funloving,
addle-pated dreamer, visionary, and slippered pantaloon.
Picture to yourself such a man, I say, and you won't have
the faintest conception of Arthur Kober.
To begin with, the author of Having Wonderful Time,
My Dear Bella and Thunder Over the Bronx, is only
eighteen inches high. He is very sensitive about his
stature and goes out only after dark, and then armed
with a tiny umbrella with which he beats off cats who
try to attack him. Not that he is antipathetic to cats;
far from it. He loves tabbies of all kinds and has done
everything to encourage a reciprocal feeling in them,
even going so far as to roll in catnip nightly, but there is
something about Kober that just makes cats' nerves tingle.
Since he is unable to climb into his bed, which is at least
two feet taller than himself, he has been forced to sleep
in the lowest drawer of a bureau since childhood, and is
somewhat savage as a result. He is meticulously dressed,
however, and never goes abroad without his green cloth
gloves and neat nankeen breeches.
His age is a matter of speculation. He claims to remem-
ber the Battle of the Boyne and on a fine night his piping
may be heard in the glen, his voice lifted in the strains of
For She's My MoIIy-O. Of one thing we can be sure; he
was seen by unimpeachable witnesses at Austerlitz, Jena,,
and Wagram, where he made personal appearances
through the courtesy of his agent, Milton Fink of the Fink
and Biesmyer office. It is also fairly certain that he first
conceived the idea of naming blucher shoes in honor of
the gruff Marshal after Waterloo. That he invented the
Welsbach mantle is not only improbable but downright
foolish. The Welsbach mantle was invented by Teddy
Welsbach, and there are plenty of the old Chalkstone
Avenue gang left to prove it.
What I like most about Kober is his mouth, a jagged
magenta wound etched against the unforgettable blank-
ness of his face. It is a bright flag of surrender, a dental
challenge. I love his sudden impish smile, the twinkle of
his alert green eyes, and the print of his cloven foot in the
shrubbery. I love the curly brown locks cascading down
his receding forehead; I love the Mendelian characteristics
he has inherited from his father Mendel; I love the wind
in the willows, the boy in the bush, and the Seven against
Thebes. I love coffee, I love tea, I love the girls, and the
girls love me. And I'm going to be a civil engineer when
I grow up, no matter what Mamma says.
At first blush one is inclined to wonder at the wedding
of this strange talent with that of Marc Connelly, whose
production and direction of Having Wondeiful Time
made his name a household word from McKeesport,
Pennsylvania, to the Shanghai Bund. Connelly, the gruff,
brown-faced old salt who served under Teach, Lafitte,
Flint (ay, Flint, there was the flower of the flock, was
Flint) and every notable buccaneer who ever careened his
Takish black craft along the Caribbean; Connelly, known
aboard all the pearling luggers out of Thursday Island with
a cargo of shell; Connelly, the mere mention of whom
would strike terror into the denizens of boozing-kens in
Paramaribo and shebeens in Belfast; Connelly, with his
black varnished straw hat and parrot on his shoulder,
ready to swarm up the mizzen at the first shrill of the
bos'n's fife; a powder-monkey under Nelson, gunners'
mate under Klaw and Erlanger, and supercargo under the
Shuberts. Lingering over your gin pahit on the porch of
Shepheard's Hotel in Cairo, you will be told that if you
remain there long enough Willie Maugham, Marc Con-
nelly, and little black specks will pass before your eyes. It
is no idle boast.
How, then, did Arthur Kober and Marc Connelly meet
and conceive the idea of Having Wonderful Time? You
must see in your mind's eye a tiny village in the Swiss
Alps. The tinkle of bells in the distance heralds a herd of
grazing cows and promises innumerable cakes of Peter's
Milk Chocolate; nearby a smiling peasant who looks like
the tyrant Gessler shucks almonds for the toothsome
candy-bars. Across yonder snow-capped peaks Hannibal
led his swaying elephants into Cisalpine Gaul. The station
platform, deserted until now, suddenly becomes the scene
of an altercation. At the railway bookstall, Kober, dressed
in his favorite costume, a gunny sack and a pair of Thorn
McAn shoes, is glaring at the attendant, who has just ac-
cused him of stealing a banana. Kober's Italian is imper-
fect, his French is as faulty as his German, and his English
is no bargain either. Haltingly he begins to explain to the
attendant that he is innocent and that what is happening
to him shouldn't happen to a Schnauzer. Unbeknownst
to both, a dusty and middle-aged gentleman has moved a
bit closer. He looks very much like the Father Brown of
the immortal detective stories except that he is not dressed
as a priest and he has absolutely no talent as a sleuth. This
is Marc Connelly, fresh from a holiday in Paris; even now,
unknown to the French Surete, the famous painting of
Mona Lisa is wrapped around his body. Immediately a
tensity is felt on the platform, and its sole other occupant,
a St. Bernard dog, resumes scratching its fleas. A few
quiet words spoken out of the side of Connelly's mouth,
Kober returns the banana, and the two men fall into
Over a table in a quiet bierstube, Connelly learns with
some surprise that Kober has written a play. Connelly, in
his spare time the author of The Wisdom Tooth, the co-
author of Beggar on Horseback, Dulcy, To the Ladies, and
The Farmer Takes a Wife, his ears still pink from the
plaudits he earned from The Green Pastures, looks at the
youth with interest. Has Kober the play with him? The
words have barely escaped him before the young man
whips open his satchel and is thumbing the pages of
Having Wonderful Time, chuckling over the jokes, guf-
fawing over the stage directions, and generally giving the
waiters the horrors. Connelly, recalling the incident,
winces, "Frankly, I was nonplussed. The color drained
away from beneath my ordinarily healthy tan and was re-
placed by a greenish mixture composed of 2 gr. sodium
Amytal, .005 spirits of benzoin, and a cup of farina. I real-
ized that I would have to quiet this extraordinary indi-
vidual, even at the cost of producing his play." And before
he knew it, Connelly, who hates a scene, had secured a
signature on a minimum basic contract from Kober, who
loves a scene. The effect was more soothing than even
Connelly had dreamed. At once fun and jollity reigned
supreme. Kober strummed a lively air on his balalaika,
cocoa and "hot wieners" were the order of the day, and
Connelly, always irrepressible, found a false nose in his
luggage and gave an imitation of Jimmy Durante. Not to
be outdone, Jimmy Durante, who had just stepped off the
Orient Express, found a false nose and gave an imitation
of Marc Connelly. And late that night the deal was con-
summated on the exchange of five hundred Confederate
dollars, which the pair jokingly pretended was real cur-
Such was their buoyancy that it was first proposed to
limit admission to Having Wonderful Time to ten pins
or whatever vegetables the patrons could muckle from
their parents' kitchens; but on reconsideration Connelly
decided that it would only confuse the ticket speculators,
and they might as well adhere to the customary toll
charges. With this point of view Kober quickly fell in;
Connelly tumbled in beside him, and soon the twain,
deep in their feather bed, were snoring away as pleasant
as you please.
Rehearsals of the play were unique in theatrical annals
in several respects. When Marc Connelly is directing, he
insists that all the seats be removed from the theatre and
be replaced by horsehair lounges. "The Romans," he
argues, "reclined at table— Petronius will vouch for that,
as well as some other pretty interesting things. Why not
recline at the theater? You say the audience will not ac-
cept the idea?" Here he gives a typically Gallic shrug of
the shoulders and smiles disarmingly. "There are more
ways to catch a finch than by putting salt on its tail." As a
result, Having Wonderful Time offered an additional
service to playgoers. Between the acts, hundreds of finches
were released in the smoking lounge and the customers
were shown numerous ingenious ways of catching them.
When I pointed out to Kober the fact that this bore no
direct connection with his play, a picture of life in a sum-
mer camp, he gave me a typically Gallic shrug of the shoul-
ders. "After all," he observed, trimming a goose-quill with
which to tickle the leading lady, "you can't give them
everything. We don't pretend we're 'Chu Chin Chow.' "
And he accepted a pinch from my snuff-box and sprinkled
it on the tail of a passing finch with a cavalier gesture.
"Pictures?" replied both Connelly and Kober, when I
asked them about the future of films, a medium which
both have studied at close range. "We don't think so.
You'll never get people into those drafty darkened stores
to look at images flickering over a sheet. You see, mon
vieux, it's artificial. Oh yes, we've heard that a man's
produced The Great K. & A. Train Robbery, but it'U
never catch on. Passing fad and all that sort of thing, you
know. Give us the theater every time. And another thing."
1 waited attentively, my pencil poised. "Didn't we tell yon
to get the hell out of this theater a half an hour ago?"
They accompanied me as far as the door, their hands
resting paternally on my shoulder and collar lest I wriggle
free of their grasp. I recovered my footing and dusted my-
self, having inadvertently tripped over a jardiniere crossing
the lobby. Already the lights were soft moons in the
streets. I turned back to look at them as they stood framed
against the ticket window, the bulbs on the marquee wink-
ing Having Wonderful Time as energetically as if the cur-
rent had been paid for. They held up their hands, shaking
their fists playfully at me in farewell. With a tug at my
heart and an extra one at my trousers, I crept down Forty-
fifth Street, munching an apple I had stolen from a fruit
vendor, and pondering the mystery and the glamor of the
2. VINCENTS MINNEIXI
One sweltering summer's day a dozen years ago I had
dropped into the main reading-room of the New York
Public Library. I was deep in Bulfinch's Age of Fable, bus-
ily shading the illustrations of Greek and Roman divini-
ties with a hard pencil and getting some truly splendid
effects, when I became aware that a strange individual
had entered the room. He was apparently a foreigner, for
he bore in his lapel a green immigrant tag reading "Ellis
Island— Rush. 9 ' His clothes were flapping hand-me-downs
greasy with travel, and altogether, he was as extraordinary
an unhung horse-thief as you would encounter outside a
gypsy encampment. Before him this fantastic creature
propelled an ancient hurdy-gurdy, and as he ground out
a wheezy catchpenny tune, made a rapid circuit of the
tables, offering highest cash prices for old bones, rubber,
bottles, and newspapers. Failing to stir up any interest
among the few high-school boys furtively hunting for
dirty words in the dictionary, this bird of ill-omen man-
aged to secrete a set of Ridpath's History of the World
under his rusty caftan and disappeared, obviously to rifle
the coatroom. The languid librarian to whom I addressed
my query contented himself with a curt "Vincente Min-
nelli" and resumed buffing his nails.
I had forgotten his rapacious face when one morning
several weeks later he fell into step with me on Forty-
fifth Street. He proposed to sell me a set of amusing post-
cards and a recondite pamphlet called The Enigmatic
Miss Floggy, but when he suggested that I follow him into
an alley for an inspection of these wares, I refused shortly.
With no resentment, he offered me a deck of cocaine for
fifty cents. I crossed the street hoping to shake him off, but
he clung like a leech. Through his connections in the
"milieu" he could obtain young virgins for a hundred and
fifty dollars. Screaming, I fled into a cab, only to discover
that he had purloined my watch-fob, a cheap German sil-
ver affair I had won in a debating contest. Outside of the
sick headache I experienced, I found that I had contracted
no diseases from the encounter.
I saw him occasionally in the months that followed,
sometimes as a pitchman hawking mending-cement and
verses of popular songs, again as a steerer for floating crap
games. For a time he ran a trap-line of telephone booths,
stuffing the slots and calling for the accumulated nickels
each evening. Now and then he rolled a lush. His fear
of risking his cowardly hide naturally kept him from par-
ticipating in a really dangerous caper.
In time I began to feel a curious affection for this cheer-
ful vagabond, possibly because he had never drawn a
knife on me. After the six months he spent in the work-
house for suspected arson, I was almost glad to see him
again. To my surprise I found that he had gone into a new
business, Somewhere he had picked up the stub of a pencil
and a square of Bristol board. The ultimate result, some
years later, was a show called Life Begins at 8:40.
The police dossier on this curious starveling is limited
unfortunately to the record of several shabby misde-
meanors, such as his pathetic attempt to palm off a papier-
mache goose on a poultryman. This exploit would never
have entangled him with the law had it not been for a re-
mark of the poultryman. ''D'ye see any green in my eye?"
he demanded scornfully, flinging the goose at Minnelli's
head. "Yes," replied the culprit truthfully, for it so hap-
pened that Minnelli, whose color sense even then was
unerring, detected green in his eye. The ensuing fracas
saw several pates broken under the quarterstaff of the
churlish poultryman, and Minnelli was dragged off in-
gloriously to be booked. It is almost unnecessary to note
that he made his escape from prison by his usual method
of having a rope pie smuggled in to him.
That I should have mistaken him for a foreigner on
first seeing him is hard to reconcile with the fact that he
is a Middle-Westerner and had never been east of Chicago
(or worn shoes, for that matter) up to his arrival in New
York in 1928. His love for bizarre dress is a byword. Even
today, with any number of Broadway shows behind him,
he is spending next year's royalties on flowered surtouts
and sword canes. It is nothing to see Minnelli parading
down Broadway of an afternoon dressed as Cameo Kirby,
complete with silk tile, ruffles at his wrists, and derringer
up his sleeve. That surly ruffian in black neckcloth with
the craven dog at his heels who rudely elbows you aside
as you enter Lindy's is less apt to be Bill Sykes than
Vincente Minnelli, about to commit mayhem on a
The biographer of his early years is hard put to sift fact
from legend. He was born in Delaware, Ohio, in 1906,
but was implicated almost immediately in a shady episode
revolving around a piece of zwieback, and had to leave
town at the age of one. At sixteen Vincente, his blood
fired by reports that Chicagoans were dancing the maxixe
and the bunny-hug, set out to see for himself. Chicago
was then a raw frontier town filled with prospectors and
desperadoes like Walter Huston shooting at Gary Cooper
through saloon doors. As Minnelli walked down the main
street, his bandanna handkerchief tied to a peeled stick
over his shoulder, munching a roll and whistling The
Lobster Is the Wise Guy, After All, his eyes were like
saucers. Little did he dream that one day he was to dis-
cover the secret of electricity and represent his country
at the Court of St. James. Accosting a gamin whose dirty
but humorous shoe-box marked him to be a bootblack,
Vincente inquired politely where he might find lodgings
for the night.
"Have yez any stamps?" inquired this personage.
"Stamps?" asked Vincente bewildered.
"Hully chee!" retorted the waif impatiently. "Kale-
rhino— spondulicks— the long green! What's a matter-
have yez bats in yer belfry?"
The intercession of honest old Bridget, the apple-
woman of Trinity, whose name was a synonym for nausea
in those parts, set the confused young traveler on the right
path. He had barely turned the corner when a runaway
horse, dragging a surrey containing a richly dressed young
lady, dashed into view. After some speculation about the
probable reward, Vincente threw himself at the foaming
steed and was promptly trampled down. He spent several
days moodily nursing his ribs, and finally driven to want
by the scanty opportunities facing an untrained second-
story worker, decided to humiliate himself and take a job.
As photographer's helper in a theatrical photo studio,
the young man concluded that the moth-eaten costumes
in which he posed various actors and actresses were atro-
cious, and he promptly started sketching. His employer's
eyes still twinkle at the memory of one of these drawings,
a sketch of the location of the office safe, which Vincente
had negligently left in his smock. Soon after, the youthful
draughtsman decided on a bold stroke. He went to the
offices of Balaban & Katz, whose name had always haunted
him with its suggestion of a roll on the kettle-drums, and
suggested the idea of allowing him to design new cos-
tumes rather than renting old ones. Balaban & Katz at
that time were the largest producers of stage shows for
picture houses in the region, and they were thunderstruck
a\ his audacity.
"But— but he's a mere tyro!" wailed Balaban when Katz
told him of the offer.
"Whisht/' returned Katz in the County Leitrim accent
he loved to affect, "let's give him a try-o." In the uproar
which followed, Minnelli found himself hired, and when
Balaban & Katz took over the Paramount Theatre in New
York, their protege came along to take charge of the cos-
New York! What magic the name evoked to the gan-
gling youth in the worn old beaver as he followed a grin-
ning red-cap out from the train shed of Grand Central!
Flinging an oath at the expectant blackamoor, Vincente
hailed a passing brioche and ordered the jehu to show him
the sights. His eyes fairly bulged from their sockets at
Chinatown with its huddled slaves of the poppy, the
Brevoort with Richard Harding Davis falling down its
front steps, and all the myriad wonders of the city. But
soon the beaver on his head was stirring restlessly, slapping
its flat tail on the nape of Vincente's neck, and it was
time to appease the inner man. The pair dined famously
off several birches in Central Park, and then, curled up
in a hollow tree, lay watching the sparkling lights and won-
dering what adventures the morrow would bring.
In a few weeks Minnelli was doing backgrounds as
well as costumes, but the spicy novels of Paul de Kock
and Restif de la Bretonne had begun to make him yearn
for Paris. On the verge of sailing to study painting at the
feet of Claude Monet— a school had opened there a short
time before— Minnelli was asked to design The Dubairy
for Grace Moore. The opportunity of designing The Du<
barry for Grace Moore would probably never come to him
twice in his life, and he decided to accept. For the next
four years, he evolved a stage show a week for the Music
Hall, and then, bored with idleness, designed the settings
for Life Begins at 8:40, At Home Abroad, The Ziegfeld
Follies, and The Show Is On. The latter attracted the at-
tention of a little coalition of dreamers and visionaries
named Paramount Pictures, and today Minnelli is one of
Hollywood's most promising young directors.
There is a saying in Hollywood that when Vincente
Minnelli is working on a picture you had better hide the
women and children in the cellar and stay in bed with
your hat on. "The Ohio Cyclone," as he is never called,
observes a rigid routine. On rising, he scrubs his face
free of the India ink, Chinese white, and water color
of the day before. Then he chops up a few blotters
and rolls them between his fingers till they disappear.
Now he is ready for his milk bath. The huge black
bathtub of vitreous milk-chocolate, his most cherished
possession, is filled with thirty gallons of steaming
Grade A. As he lolls back in the tub, Minnelli's
mind becomes a beehive of ideas. Several efficient secre-
taries, who work for nothing merely to be near him,
take down the acid retorts, thumbnail vignettes, pithy
saws, and biting sarcasms which fall from his lips. These
by-products are relayed to a corps of typists who bind
and ship them to a firm of publishers, who in turn bind
and ship them back. Meanwhile Minnelli busies himself
making toy boats of the letters he receives from feminine
admirers and sends them sailing away on a puff of fra^
grant Turkish. If a letter from some pathetic little seam-
stress or love-starved housewife should happen to intrigue
him, he has one of the secretaries send her a photograph
of himself in a characteristic pose. However, what with
the Post Office Department's complaints, the photo-
graphs have fallen off to a minimum lately. And so the
days go by, and before you know it, there are the twenty-
four sheets advertising a new movie directed by Vincente
Of his private life, I know very little. I understand that
he has become immensely wealthy, inordinately sought-
after, and unbelievably unaffected. I count my spoons and
my sisters every time he leaves my house. He has never
once offered to repay me for my German silver watch-fob.
But the first time I saw the settings and costumes he did
for "The Steamboat Whistle" in At Home Abroad, 1
knew that all accounts were squared between us. I owe
that boy plenty.
OR THE FUTURE OF EATING
(Note found in an empty stomach off Santa
One day not long ago in Los Angeles I found
myself, banderillas in hand, facing the horns of a dilemma.
I had gone into a Corn Exchange bank to exchange some
corn and had fallen into conversation with the manager.
He was very affable and insisted I inspect the assets of
the branch, which included, among other things, the teeth
Bryant Washburn had used in his film career. Issuing
into the hot sunlight of the street, I was dismayed to find
that it was time for lunch, and since I had forgotten to
bring along a bag of pemmican, I would have to eat in
Los Angeles— a fairly exact definition of the term "the
kiss of death/' I looked around me. On my left I
could obtain a duplexburger and a Giant Malted Milk
Too Thick For a Straw; on my right the feature was
barbecued pork fritters and orangeade. Unnerved, I
stopped a passing street Arab and courteously inquired
where I might find a cheap but clean eating house. Phil
the Fiddler (for it was he) directed my steps to a phar-
macy bearing the legend "Best Drug Stores, Inc." Merely
for the record, I dined off an avocado sandwich on whole
wheat and a lime rickey, and flunked my basal-metabolism
test later that afternoon. I don't pretend to blame the
management for my physical shortcomings; all I want
them to do is laugh off their menu, a copy of which I
seem to have before me.
In general, "Soda Fountain Suggestions" (Best Drug
Stores, Inc.) is an attractively printed job in two colors
(three if you count the gravy), and though it can hardly
hope to rival the success of Gone with the Wind, I sup-
pose there is an audience which will welcome it. The
salads and three-decker sandwiches are treated with a cer-
tain gaiety and quaint charm which recall Alice oi Old
Vincennes. The banana splits and hot-and-cold Ovaltines
are handled with a glib humor in the text, which is more
than I can say for the way they are handled behind the
fountain. The day I was there, a simply appalling oath
escaped the lips of one of the dispensers when he dropped
some fudge on his shoe. The authors have included a
very disarming foreword short enough to quote in its en-
tirety: "It is our earnest desire to fulfill the name that
we have chosen for our chain, the best. We can only
accomplish this by serving you best. Any criticisms or
suggestions will be appreciated by the management/' Only
a churl would decline so graceful a gambit. Messieurs,
Specifically, gentlemen, my criticism concerns that
cocky little summary of yours at the bottom of the menu.
"Best Soda Fountains/' you proclaim flatly, "are Best
because: the ice creams contain no 'fillers' (starch, albu-
men, etc.); the syrups are made from cane sugar and real
fruits; the coffee is a special blend made the modern Silex
way with a specially filtered water/' and so forth. Lest
some of the younger boys in the troop think the millen-
nium has come to the City of Our Lady, Queen of the
Angels, what are the facts?
In the first place, you needn't think you can woo me
with any such tinsel as "the ice creams contain no 'fillers'
(starch, albumen, etc.)." One thing III have in my ice
cream or it's no dice—and that's fillers. I don't even insist
on ice cream as long as I can stuff myself with fillers.
You heap my plate with albumen and starch (any kind,
even laundry starch) and stand clear. Call me a piggy if
you want to, but I just can't get enough of that starch.
Quite honestly, your statement that the syrups "are
made from cane sugar and real fruits" surprised me. If
that's a boast, I must say it's a pretty hollow one. It might
interest you to know that back in 1917 the Allied High
Command specified beet sugar and false fruits in all syr-
ups purchased by its commissary department. Didn't
know that, did you? Probably too busy evading the draft
at the time. Well, you just ask any biochemist his recom-
mendation on sugars, as I did recently; you'll get the
same terse answer: beet sugar and false fruits. I have this
cousin of mine who is a perfect wiz at chemistry— really
astonishing marks for a boy of nineteen in high school—
and no matter what you ask him, he'll give you the same
answer: beet sugar and false fruits. Frankly, the family's
getting a little worried about it; they have to keep Benny
jchained to a ring in the floor most of the time.
Furthermore, it's useless to try to creep into my heart
with any blandishments like "the coffee is a special blend
made the modern Silex way with a specially filtered
water." Filtering Los Angeles water robs it of its many
nourishing ingredients, not the least of which is chow
mein. It is an interesting fact, known to anybody who has
ever been interned in that city or its suburbs, that the
water possesses a rich content of subgum almond chow
mem, Cantonese style, and one or two cases have even
been reported where traces of peanut candy and lichee
nuts were found. The assertion of a friend of mine that
he once saw an Irish houseboy come out of a water faucet,
of course, must be regarded as apocryphal. The Irish are
a wiry little people, but they are not as wiry as all that.
Nor are they ready as yet for the self-government which
my distinguished opponents, the gentlemen of the affirm-
ative, claim they should have. And so, honorable judges
and ladies and gentlemen, we of the negative conclude
that the Irish should not be given their independence
because (1) we need them for a coaling station, (2)
there is a high percentage of illiteracy, and (3) if we do,
Ireland will soon be snatching up Guam—or "chewing
Guam," so to speak I thank you.
YOU SHOULD LIVE SO,
Up the rolling ridge of Giggles Hill, a mile
back from the Pennsylvania bank of the Delaware River,
stands a modest stone house, pretty much as it stood
during the last century. It is approached through a ma-
jestic avenue of large yellow signboards, placed there at
ruinous expense and with no conviction whatever that he
who runs will read. Beginning gently enough with the
silky admonition ''Fortified Area— Stay Off," the tone
changes abruptly to a sinister "Communicable Diseases-
Proceed at Your Own Risk." Should this prove inade-
quate, and it always does, the next two hundred feet are
devoted to some choice billingsgate culled from Restora-
tion plays, calculated to make a mule skinner flush to the
roots of his hair. Unfortunately, since very few mule skin-
ners pass that way, and those mostly bald, the effect is
negligible, and by the time you top the rise beyond the
persimmon trees, the signs culminate on a note of sheer
hopelessness in a pair of 24-sheet billboards reading
"Country Life: A Mockery" and "Solitude, My Foot."
Naturally enough I have been called everything from
an old crosspatch to a modern Timothy Dexter of New-
buryport. Indeed, whenever I drive my gig into the county
seat for a pound of wire brads, of which I am inordinately
fond, a troop of small boys invariably forms at my heels
with taunts of "Oh, you modern Timothy Dexter of New-
buryport!" So if I take the stand now in my own defense,
it is only because Thoreau has had it long enough. Privacy
m the country? Don't make me laugh, I've got a split per-
Back in 1932, just before That Man came in and de-
stroyed business confidence by reopening the banks, I
belonged to a little group of profound thinkers who spent
their evenings doing embroidery. The embroidery was on
the theme, "If you have a small piece of dirt somewhere,
you can always raise enough to keep you going/' There
was also a corollary which specified, "Nobody bothers
you in the country. You can sleep as late as you like."
Well, SaPs in a brothel, Pat's in jail, and I'm the one to
tell the tale. I raised enough to keep myself going, all
right, but my stomach never really became adjusted to
ferns and hot water. Now I eat and drink whatever I like
and sleep like a top— till shortly before dawn. Then the
It is usually headed by a snaggle-toothed old bit player
overpicturesquely made up as a hired man, who follows
a well-worn routine. After sneaking around the house a
few times to set the dogs in an uproar, he stations himself
beneath my bedroom window and bawls out some ob-
scene farrago, which presumably is a request for instruc-
tions about the chores. Properly keyed up on several bran-
dies and armed with a pony, I can feel my way through
Pennsylvania German dialect, but pluck me out of a
sound slumber and I present a pitiable sight. Experience
has taught me that to keep the respect of this man, whom
I have never seen after five o'clock in the morning, I must
pretend to give the matter deep thought. So for the next
five minutes we both remain en tableau: he with an oily
grin on his face, as though butter wouldn't melt in his
mouth (he has even held up lumps of unmelted butter
to me on occasion) , and the young master swaying against
the window, eyes closed and forefinger to temple in an
attitude of profound concentration. In the end I give the
fellow carte blanche and reel back to my crib, only to dis-
cover later, on arising again, that he has chopped down
all the Chinese elms I planted last fall. Who pays the
man to do this type of work I have no idea, unless it can
be the War Office in Tokio.
Hardly am I back in the Taj Mahal, surrounded by
Madeleine Carroll and five hundred million billion trillion
dollars, when the masons, carpenters and assorted tech-
nicians arrive, minus tools but with plenty of noisemakers
and confetti. After a brief warmup, which includes morris
dancing on the green and feats of strength, one of their
number, who is either eighteen feet high or uses a lad-
der, leans in at my window for a series of those highly com-
plex questions you love to wake up to: "Hey, Mister, does
the bushing fit over or under the flange on the cam?" or
"Shall we put the differential on the housing or white-
lead the gaskets? You haven't got a pound of sixpenny
nails in there, have you?" Ignoring with considerable
hauteur the implication that I am the sort of man who
sleeps with sixpenny nails, I now rise and stand up in a
clothes closet until time for breakfast.
Belowstairs, preparations have gone forward briskly to
welcome the laird to his morning meal. Compared to my
dining room, the floor of the Stock Exchange is a clois-
tered dell. The family motto seems to be "Let's tell him
now, he'll only find out anyway/' Bubbling with infec-
tious laughter, the staff greets me with the news that the
hot-water system has gone to hell and rabbits have been
at the lettuce. Gramps, a lovable old white-haired charac-
ter who fought with Meade at Shiloh— he and Meade just
never got along— has been up since six, making his usual
inspection of the premises, and things look pretty black.
A large bird, cousin to the giant condor of the Andes, has
mysteriously wedged itself into the chimney during the
night; it might be cheaper to tear down the whole kitchen
wing while we're about it. None of the lespedeza he
planted yesterday is up yet, and the old gentleman
shouldn't wonder if they sold him last year's seed. With
the orange juice and coffee scarcely more than a hot ball
in my throat, instant decisions are now in order regarding
the dinner menu. What about roast-beef hash with gravy
and browned potatoes? Or a few salmon croquettes fol-
lowed by boiled beef with horseradish and capers? Yes,
but don't put so much flour in the sauce. Well, you try
and cook with that oven. Nothing wrong with the oven;
we just bought it. Nothing wrong with the oven? Didn't
we tell you? This morning, just as Freda went to light the
83 Rolling Acres— Quaint old stone house— completely
restored— summer kitchen, guest house— historic maple shade
—orchard, never-failing creek, artesian well— 30 acres in timber
—huge bank barn stabling 21 head— poultry houses, garage,
workshop, all farm implements— owner will exchange for
9X6 city apt. above 15th fl.— must have air shaft and no
view— apply immediately*
A few days ago I happened into my news-
dealer's for ten cents' worth of licorice whips and the
autumn issue of Spindrift, a rather advanced quarterly re-
view in which I had been following an exciting serial
called "Mysticism in the Rationalist Cosmogony, or John
Dewey Rides Again." In the previous number, the cattle
rustlers (post-Hegelian dogma) had trapped Professor
Dewey in an abandoned mine shaft (Jamesian pragma-
tism) and had ignited the fuse leading to a keg of dyna-
mite (neo-Newtonian empiricism). Naturally, I was sim-
mering with impatience to learn how the Morningside
Kid would escape from this fix, and I lost no time getting
back to my rooms in the Middle Temple and stuffing my
crusty old brier with shag. The gesture turned out to be
singularly appropriate, for I shortly discovered that my
newsdealer had made a mistake in his excitement and
that I would have to spend the evening with a journal
called The Jitterbug.
The Jitterbug is a febrile paper published bimonthly
by the Lex Publications, Inc., of 381 Fourth Avenue, de-
voted to the activities of alligators, hepcats and exaltes
of swing everywhere. These activities, which consist in
hurling one another violently about to popular music,
riding astride one another, and generally casting out devils,
are portrayed in ten or fifteen pages of photographs and
cartoons that need no explanation. What will bear a little
exegesis, however, is the text of the half-dozen short
stories and articles. Were it not for the glossary of swing
terms thoughtfully supplied by the management at the
very outset, the magazine might as well be couched in
Chinook. It may not concern anybody vitally that a
"Scobo queen" is a girl jitterbug, that "frisking the whis-
kers" is warming up, that a "zeal girl" is a hot girl dancer,
or that a "wheat bender" is one who plays sweet music
instead of swing, but if you expect to translate such stories
as "Jazz Beau," "Riffin' on the Range," and "Noodling
with Love" without the aid of a trot, you are one hep-
The qualifications of a working jitterbug are succinctly
set forth in the national organizations' membership blank,
which appears on page 21. It reads:
This is to certify that is a jiving, hot-hosing Jitterbug,
a member of the Community of Hep-Cats, and as such entitled
to beat it out whenever the music swings out high, wide, and
The characters involved in the aforementioned stories
are all that and more. For example, Cal Leonard, the pro-
tagonist of "Jazz Beau," is described as "a pair of Mack
Truck shoulders, a grinning mouth, and wild, flame-blue
eyes." I suppose there was a body linking these goodies
together, but the pace is so staccato that the author neg-
lects to mention it. Debby Waite, of "Noodling with
Love," on the other hand, has body and to spare, judging
from the following tender blueprint:
Her thick, curly red-gold hair was kind of piled up on top
and around her head, and it made a shining halo that framed
the white oval of her face. Those sultry lips of hers were red
and glistening under the lights, and her gray eyes sparkled
like hot rhythm. Debby's figure was never anything to be
missed, but in the two years since Fd seen her, several de-
lectable curves I remembered had ripened. And the dress she
was wearing wasn't calculated to hide that fact. Its full chiffon
skirt tantalized by its seeming transparency, and it clung to
the soft roundness of her hips with loving closeness. The waist
was high and tight, and above that rose two shields that
fitted snugly over the proud mounds of her swelling breasts.
In fine, a Schrafft's Luxuro ice-cream sundae come to life;
and, as though I were not overheated enough already, the
author has to pile Pelion on Ossa by telling me this glori-
ous blob of girlhood was educated at Bennington. Look,
dear, I wouldn't care if she had quit school in the sixth
The plots of the short stories in my copy of Jitterbug
are fairly basic: Scobo queen meets hep-cat, they find mu-
tual release in barrelhouse or gut-bucket, and eventually,
on the winsome revelation that one or the other is heir to
half a million rugs, shag, peck, and paw their way to the
altar. "Jazz Beau" may serve as a clinical example. A
young lady describing herself as a Taxi-Tessie or wriggle-
wren employed at the Roselane Ballroom is lured into
a Broadway movie theatre by the harmonies of one Biggie
Barnett and his band:
I heard the wail of a wah-wah pump, the staccatoed stutter
of skins. . . . My heart began to thump and swell with the
fever of rhythm. I giggled out loud. Crazily, I slid to a stop at
the aisle, in the theatre proper, scanned the seats. Full. I felt
my breasts tremor angrily.
This mysterious physiological reaction, no doubt experi
enced by every woman at the sight of an S.R.O. sign,
yields to a state bordering on epilepsy when the band
really starts giving:
I began to sway in my seat. My lashes fluttered. My head
bobbed in time with the red hot ride rhythm. Jittersauce began
to burn up my bloodstream.
At this point, as the cognoscenti begin stomping and
trucking freely about in a delirium of pleasure, the sur-
realist owner of the Mack Truck shoulders, grinning
mouth, and wild flame-blue eyes enters the proceedings:
"Lookee," the big guy whispered, "I've got to get out in that
aisle and whip my dogs! Do we team up? A big gazabo like me
is gonna look awfully silly getting off a solo!"
Hesitating a split second lest her suppliant turn ©ut to be
a geep, or wolf, Miss Prim surrenders to his emotional
plea and joins the gavotte:
While those cats up on the stage clambaked like nobody^
business, my partner and I really cut that rug. . . . All I was
conscious of was the driving syncopation and lift of agony
pipes, the noodling of the brass section, as barrelhouse blasts
whipped my slender legs and weaving hips into a rhythmic
frenzy. We did the Suzy-Q. We shagged and pecked.
His appetite whetted by this preliminary workout,
Cal declares his intention of making a night of it. "My
sox are hell-hot and Fve got to hop till I wear holes in
my soles to cool them off," he avers, and his escort, whose
disposition is no less elastic than her frame, readily assents.
"We strutted and stuffed to burning boogie-woogie,
stayed in the groove until we were both beat right down/'
she whispers shyly to her diary. Thereupon, in a passage
as salty as any you will find in the Kamasutra, the gym-
nasts take leave of each other until the following evening,
when Cal "came swaggering into Roselane looking like
a color-page from Esquire/' Maybe the engraver's hand
slipped, but the last color-page from Esquire I saw was
slightly off register and showed a junior executive with a
flesh-colored suit and a pale-blue herringbone face. Had
Cal worn something of the sort, however, he could hardly
have caused a greater sensation. In a trice the other host-
esses cluster excitedly about his affinity, asking whether
she knows Cal's father is a millionaire motor magnate
in Detroit. The little lady loves Cal for his floy floy alone,
and her disillusion and heartbreak are such that she is
almost thirty seconds recovering from the shock. "You
don't think of those things when you're with a guy who's
slowly driving you screwball with love," she observes with
icy disdain. Perhaps not, puss, but it certainly wouldn't
do any harm to look the old gent up in Dun & Bradstreet—
now, would it? I mean just for the heck of it.
Follows an interval of courtship in which, fanned by
love and jive, Cal's passion mounts to a crescendo. He
becomes a nightly visitor to Roselane, buying rolls of
dance tickets and "paying out a small fortune" (probably
upward of three dollars in a single evening) to keep off
poachers. A drunken geep who engages our miss in the
Portland fancy finds himself "bounced off two walls after
Cal hit him." But Cal's importunate proposals of mar
riage are met with the only answer a high-grade heroine
of fiction can give: "Everyone would think I was wedding
you for your papa's shekels. You'd even think it yourself,
after the romance wore off." The chilling presentiment
of a loveless union between two graying jitterbugs retired
to the bench and soaking their feet in a pail of Tiz never-
theless fails to dissuade Cal: "He begged. He pleaded.
He made love with words [the last desperate throw of the
dice] like Red Norvo swings 'Reverie/ " Yet all to no
avail, for in a scene of renunciation worthy of Tolstoy
(not Leo Tolstoy; a man I know named Charlie Tol-
stoy), the narrator gives the mitten to "the one and only
guy who had played on my heart strings like a bass-man
picks at a belly fiddle."
And now, in a Garrison finish, Cal calls forth the te-
nacity and cunning that have made his father a cautioo
in the automotive industry. He retains two geeps to enter
Roselane, trip up his inamorata while dancing with her,
and so humiliate her that she is forced to resign her post.
This incomprehensibly restores the social equation be-
tween the lovers and sends them on a honeymoon wherein
they "shagged and trucked and Suzy-Q-ed and hugged
and kissed." The narrative concludes, "Anyhow, when
two alligators get together and love sets in, youVe got
Fll say I have, sister. Did you ever hear tell of migraine?
^WiMtt has gone before: Poultney Groin, dis-
illusioned and middle-aged playboy, member of Manhat-
tan's "upper crust/' tires of Simone Dravnik, beauteous
model whom he has been protecting. Womanlike, stung
to the quick, she stares into her hand-mirror in her lavishly
appointed apartment on Park Avenue and asks herself the
age-old question: Finished your dinner? Now it's acid's
turn to dine! These small cavities filled 1 with decomposed
food morsels rapidly hatch bacteria. In a few hours your
formerly healthy system is a mass of putrefaction. Ask
Dr. Fritz P. Tanzpalast of the German Deaconess Hos-
pital in Chicago. Or ask Mr. Fred Dahlgren of Norfolk,
Virginia. Dog mah cats, folks, jes' give me mah spoon vit-
iles, mah side-meat an 9 yams, an' dat little blue tin of
Edgeworth, sho sho. Down the dusty Chisholm trail into
Abilene rode taciturn Spit Weaver, his lean brown face
an enigma and his six-gun swinging idly from the pommel
of Moisshe, the wonder horse. I'm curryin' my dogs in a
pail of hot H 2 when the ball-and-chain ankles in beam-
in'. I get the bulge on her both ways from the whistle.
Listen, sister, I snarls, Spike McGinnity'll be a pushover
for the Kid's meathooks. He'll be kissin' the canvas in
two frames. So take a powder. You're slugnutty, grates she,
how you gonna do it? Just bend the old auditory appa-
ratus, meanin' ear, I warbles. Women of America, all you
worried fatties, simply apply my marvelous Thinno treat-
ment to that sagging, foolish bosom of yours and in
ten minutes you 11 be as svelte as a Fifth Avenue model—
svelter, by Christ Vy svelter in the citys heat when poised,
self-possessed cosmopolitans rub elbows in the Salon
Mixte of the S.S. "Getioffen"? Mingle with courtly diplo-
mats, scintillating stars of stage and screen, and world-
famous bon vivants in the spacious, airy playrooms of this
floating week-end/ Shoot clay ducks in the privacy of your
cabin! Roach-ridden, pockmarked, hog-fat, land-poor,
nigger-rich, penny-wise and pound-foolish genuine Breton
stewards attend to your every want/ Beginning next
month: Edith Waterhouse Prattf ogle's dynamic novel of
human destinies against the brilliant background of a
Hawaiian volcano. A tapestry shot through and through
with the vivid plumage of pleasure-mad sybarites. A
flaming pageant of a forbidden love. White man . . . brown
girl . . . caught in the volcanic drama of life ... on the sun-
drenched shores of a magic isle . . . where blood runs
hot and the heart is free and man holds in fierce embrace
the alluring image of elemental woman as the jealous God
in the Mountain of Fire sunders the earth and splits the
skies and hurls the sea to a bottomless pit because she
broke the savage Taboo! Shape your nose the new scien
tific way with this new device discovered by leading Euro*
pean chemists. Freckles, pimples, wrinkles, blackheads t
enlarged pores, pits, pots, pans, abrasions, painter's colic v
trachoma, treachery, and trainman's headache all disap-
pear before this invigorating compound. Dog of a Chris
tian unbeliever, know then that in all Samarkand dwells
none as lovely as gazelle-eyed Vashtar. Even the lotus
petal fades before her modest demeanor, and when she
walks abroad veiled in her yashmak, foolhardly indeed is
he who would dare gainsay her. But in the crooked Street
of Ten Thousand Lanterns wily Ah Gow fingered a jade-
encrusted fly worth a prince's ransom and kept his own
counsel. Verily is it written that the fool has a hundred
tongues but the wise man will mother a clucking hen with
soft speeches. Parsley Braddon of the violet eyes and the
storm-tossed curls lounged moodily in her chaise-longue
atop Gotham's loftiest skyscraper. Her exquisitely mod-
eled shoulders shivered disgustedly at the thought of
Southampton in August. Feh! Ptoo! If only Roddy Lath-
rop and Mimi Lubliner would call for her in their yellow
speedster. To feel the giddy onrush of wind in her hair
as she sped down the Merrick Road— free, free! Lots o'
folks figger they're sassiety fellers becuz they own a claw-
hammer coat Pussonally, I'd he a dern sight happier
a-whittlin y chaws off'n my old plug o 7 Mechanics Delight.
And Mr. Burns, however homely his philosophy, is right.
This little box of Tasty Chocolate candy . . . collapsible,
easily cleaned, fits into any orifice . . . will blow the be-
jesus out of your lazy colon. Clean house! Clear the decks!
Clear the courtroom! Open your bowel and let the sun-
light in! It was glamour that put highlights in her hair,
glamour that made him throw back his shoulders like a
young Lochinvar come riding out of the West. Young
they were, absurdly young . . . brave, defiant of the world,
lazing the days away. All both of them wanted was a little
nook. Foolish, tender, quixotic, impulsive, generous to a
fault, they called me Aunt Vi, albeit I was scarcely three
years their senior. At times their innocence and gay
bravado brought a lump to my throat. Take the lump
of margarine, whip well with a skein of gray worsted,
roll well in breadcrumbs till your skin gets that tingly
feeling, and then ask these six questions of your Church
toilet seat My husband was touchy, morose, flatulent.
He would leave for his office in the morning, throw him-
self at his typewriter, and practically tear the clothes
off her. I consulted a specialist and together we examined
the fine, saw-toothed edges of the tissue under the micro-
scope. Sure enough . . . they were snails. We hesitated at
first but after the garqon assured us, we tried them and
found them delicious. We also visited La Reine Pedauque,
Weber's, the Tomb of Napoleon, the House of All Na-
tions, and many other spots of the City of Light. All in all
the trip cost us two hundred and Eve dollars, including
tips. Well, dear Betty, "nuf sed" for tonight and I cer-
tainly must say that the Furness-Withy Lines are all a
body could want in the way of economical, pleasant travel.
Oh, yes, and I mustn't neglect to tell you that two seven-
teen-thousand-ton, steam-heated liners leave every Tues-
day and Saturday for Haifa and Smyrna from Pier 89. To
Tracy Hand, a formal figure with elegant hands erect by
the rosewood spinet, his cravat a white patch of arrogance
below his dark, alien face, the futility of life in Salem was
a fact, a proved quantity. Poppaea couldn't, he knew,
feel the resentment, inevitably, which he had been stor-
ing up inside him. The notes died in the twilight and he
turned carefully, almost stiffly, toward the gun-room. How-
ever brittle his role in the succession of frivolities which
he tolerated in this house, the memory of Lily Jastrow's
laughter followed him. Frankly, we're Knox-Iabel-con-
scious . . . and why not? Wed be dull young moderns not
to realize that apres tout Knox gelatin has that certain
je ne sais quoi . . . That how you say elan . . . That mys-
terious "spreadable" quality possessed only by this zesty
old cheddar dusted lightly over wheaty little Thinsies.
You there 7 Uncle Mose, you black rascal, whuffo' aint
you done bring in de cunriYs fatback y ri co'n-pone? Faix
an 7 begorra, Ah's been savoring de delicious odor ob Chase
and Sanborn s date-marked coffee, befo' de Lawdl Well,
Mose, I certainly cant blame you for that, but where did
you get it? Why, Bascom's, just above Forty-fourth Street,
you know. Which explains how Mr. Demosthenes P.
Johnson, late Grand Sachem of the Affiliated Sons of the
Imperial Order of the Setting Star, happened to be walk-
ing down F Street in the Ethiopian quarter of Birming-
ham, Alabama. He had just passed the tonsorial parlors of
T. Agamemnon Snowball (Motto: We shave you, you
save yourself) when he was hailed by a familiar voice.
Turning, he descried the beaming lineaments of none
other than Pericles Q. Shoat, late vice-president in charge
of production of the Abyssinian Motion-Picture Studios.
You American mothers, in those intimate little heart-to-
heart talks with your daughters, what about this question
of shashlik (the medical name for soiled stomach)? You
like to think of yourself as a sister to Mary Ellen, not as a
mother, and yet you are allowing the fluff to accumulate
in her navel and store up illnesses for later years. You
must be a pretty flea-bitten son-of-a-bitch, dash it all!
But that's only part of our service! We, the makers of
Roylcord-Bounceaway tires, the tire habit of a nation,
the tire with the triple suction grips, the double reinforced
shock-absorbing cushion-impact, and that modern inno-
vation in tire-engineering, floating shoulder pressure, have
posted a bond with 184 of America's leading insurance
companies. If any tire bearing our name blows out in less
than six hundred thousand miles of use, you can take it
and shove it into the nearest post-ofEce and receive post-
paid an absolutely new one in exchange! Remember it's
shish kebab (your doctor's name for sensitive epidermic
tissue) which shortens your shave-life! Boy, you haven't
felt shave-ease on your old shave-surface till youVe dis^
covered Shav-Komfy, the shave-secret of the Aztecs! Eve-
ning was a bright lasso drawing the sun's red ball behind
the ridge when Virgil Spafford stopped the Ford outside
Gedney's. Man-fashion, he made as if to pass April, laugh-
ing there in the little circle of onhangers. She was a bright
lasso drawing awkward young men down from the farms,
Virgil snorted; her hand fluttered from his coat, and he
entered Gedney's. Gedney's, the bright lasso which drew
the main street of Shoreham into a hard, angular knot,
was empty, partially through having burned down the pre-
vious month, partially because old man Gedney had never
set foot in Shoreham. Brazilian peons, humming their
native songs, picked the coffee which flavors this new and
startling confection; from the snowy summits of the Andes
came long-Ebred llama wools to give it body; and from
our own Pennsylvania coal-fields comes the delicious gritty
anthracite dust which is making this obscene little candy
the lunch-substitute of millions. A mischievous breeze
molded the outline of her figure against the dunes. Cap'n
Eben Mushmouth chuckled to himself and relit his pipe-
Sairy Ann would have plenty to say about this new arrival
in Hyannis. Forty Fathom mackerel, scales glistening with
the still-fresh hiine of the Georges Bank, bursting with im-
patience to leap into your frying-pan and treat your palate
to a real old-fashioned tummy-fest! In galvanized-iron
hermetically sealed pails direct from our cleaning sheds
in Gloucester to your doorstep! And now, dear reader, a
final word from Mr. Editor Mans. We have scoured the
fiction market to set before you Three Million Tiny Sweat
Glands Functioning in that vibrant panorama of tomor-
row so that Your Sensitive Bowel Muscles Can react to
the inevitable realization that only by enrichment and
guidance plus a soothing depilatory can America face its
problems confidently, unafraid, well-groomed, mouth-
happy, breaking the hair off at the roots without undue
stench. Okay, Miss America!
CLEANING AND DYEING
I have been kept so busy by Uncle Fagin
filching ladies' handkerchiefs that it was only yesterday
I realized the spring and summer issues of The Cleaning
and Dyeing World and The National Cleaner and Dyer
are out again, bursting with the sort of surprises we have
come to expect from The Cleaning and Dyeing World
and The National Cleaner and Dyer. It is all very well
to be b\as€ about it, Mr. Man of the World, as you loll
in your glittering brioche along Rotten Row and idly suck
liqueur candies, but every hot-blooded aficionado of dry-
cleaning will hurl his cap into the air at the news. Any
statistician will tell you that there are literally thousands
of people in the United States today interested in every
phase of dry-cleaning, which is a good handy reason for
avoiding statisticians. As for me, I could hardly wait until
I got my teeth into the new numbers of these breezy little
magazines, and I was not disappointed. They taste even
better than the January and February issues, and that faint
flavor of peppermint in the binding was nothing short of
an inspiration. We fried a couple of the rotogravure pages
for lunch and they had a crisp, crunchy quality like fried
smelts. You have to be rather careful chewing them, as
the binding is full of sharp little staples, but the half-tones
are simply delicious and altogether both magazines are
Unfortunately, reading them is an entirely different
proposition. I have waded through some dull wordage in
my day, but if there is anything as trying as an article on
mothproofing a vest, I prefer to remain in the dark about
it. To make matters worse, I have a little fixation about
moths which I am able to control most of the time, but
half-way through the article a pair of those filmy gray
types suddenly fluttered out of the magazine itself and
tried to settle on my face. Now you know that isn't any
way to hold a reader spellbound. The janitor said he never
heard a man scream like that.
The Cleaning and Dyeing World and The National
Cleaner and Dyer, however, now and then forget them-
selves sufficiently to let slip a trade secret or two. For
instance, I always wondered who was in charge of scorch-
ing my gray flannels and spattering them with ink at the
dry-cleaning plant, and how much he had to pay for the
concession. It now turns out that this work is only en-
trusted to experts, who are even paid to do it by their
vengeful bosses. Surely hatred of the customer could go
no further. The National Cleaner and Dyer for May,
under "Positions Wanted" advertises: "Expert Fancy
Spotter, all around man, 23 years practical experience
best plants. Box 509." ("Best pants" is obviously what
the fool means— he'll never get a job that way. ) An expert
silk spotter, who sounds as though he could raise hell
with crinkly crepes, is also available for special vandalism
on ladies' garments, care of Box 510. Another valuable
bit of technical information is the note in the May Clean-
ing and Dyeing World which states "The plural of 'tailor's
goose' is not 'geese' but 'gooses'." The next time you en-
ter your tailor's shop, try this out on him and see what it
gets you. It got me a rather nasty blow on the knuckles
with a flat-iron which I am still trying to laugh off.
But it is in the Question-and-Answer Department of
The Cleaning and Dyeing World that the unshriven dry-
cleaner, hungry for absolution, unlocks his lips and pours
out his follies. In this Sargasso Sea drift some strange
hulks; witness the appalling confession which appeared
in the May issue:
"A brand new white velvet dress was put in the pressing
machine the first thing in the morning. A few drops of con-
densed steam containing rust dripped out of the buck.
While it was still wet we applied pre-spotter, thinking that
it would absorb the water, and put it into our synthetic
solvent unit. After the run the spot of rust remained.
"Next we applied a rust-removing preparation, but that
did not remove it. After it was thoroughly rinsed out we
used potassium permanganate followed by sodium bisulphite
and oxalic acid. When that dried out there was a large
brown spot where the KMN0 4 had been. Can you advise
us how to remove the brown spot?— G. D., Pa."
In Heaven's name, what in the world is wrong with a
nice brown blob of potassium permanganate on the front
of a white velvet dress? Schiaparelli would pivot her whole
winter collection around an idea like that; she'd make up
a line of evening jewelry out of Bunsen burners to go
with it that would knock your eye out. But if G.D. is
really afraid of a eiise on the part of his client, there is
only one solution. The dress should be wrapped in a back
number of The Cleaning and Dyeing World, taken to
Grand Central, and checked at the East Parcel Room,
The dry-cleaner then mails the receipt to the customer
and boards the night train to Montreal. I learned this
trick from Samuel Leibowitz, who tells me that you can-
not extradite a dry-cleaner, much less remain in the same
room with one.
There is a slightly hesitant air about Mr. A. C. W.
of Fla., as he straggles up to the mourner's bench with
the following horrid little case history in the April Clean-
ing and Dyeing World:
'We have a pair of brown flannel pants that we dry-cleaned
in the usual way, then wet-cleaned them. They came out
with grayish-white splotches all over them. We wet-
cleaned and dry-cleaned again to no advantage. We have
never before had any trouble like this. Can you tell us some-
thing to remedy this trouble?"
Trouble is what you make it, my boy, and it's no use
going around with a let-down nose over a few white
splotches. If you can't bully the customer into thinking
that he is seeing specks before his eyes, you are not the
stuff dry-cleaners are made of. Just keep chewing on
that dead cigar stump and saying "G'wan, you little
weasel, why don't you have your eyes examined?" while
the customer yells himself hoarse. If he threatens to sue,
remind him calmly that your uncle is a judge in the
Appellate Division. Should he scream back that his uncle
is a judge in the Appellate Division too, that constitutes
a tie and must be played off at a later date.
The fine old tradition of tough-sinewed, hard-bitten
dry-cleaners has passed and in its stead has appeared a race
of white-livered milksops. Typical of this namby-pamby
attitude is the spineless letter of W. L. A., Okla., in the
March Cleaning and Dyeing World:
"I am a small town Dry Cleaner with only eight years of
experience. However, I am quite a student and go to places
of learning when I can afford it. I attended the Short Course
at Ames, Iowa, in June, 1930. I shall not be satisfied till I
have graduated from the National School at Silver Spring,
"Under separate cover I am sending you a specimen from
a green dress that so far makes me feel more of a novice
than I am. I cleaned this dress and returned it myself with-
out a spot on it. Two days after the customer called us tell-
ing us there were lots of stiff places on this dress. She says
she did not wear it and blames us for these spots.
"I could not figure out what the spots were unless they
could be paint. I sponged out with dilute alcohol, then dry
cleaned in Stoddard Solvent, without removing the spots.
I would not try any other chemicals, being ignorant of the
kind of stain it was, so I am asking you to let me know
what they are/'
I may be all haywire, W. L. A., but from where I am
sitting those spots look suspiciously like dried froth from
the customer's lips. That little lady is raging mad, and
no amount of honeyed words or complimentary coat-
hangers engraved with your name is going to mollify her.
Your one chance is contained in the advertisement the
Page Engineering Company of Syracuse inserted in the
March issue of Cleaning and Dyeing World:
"Hat Machine Only $142.50— -Can be connected to press*
ing machine. Simple to operate. Just plug in and run."
And whatever you do, brother, keep on running.
WELL. ROLL ME
IN A TURKISH TOWEL!
If the gentlemen in the upper half of the
amphitheatre will be so good as to move down— there,
that's better. The patient is a well-developed white male
of thirty-nine in moderate shock. His skin is moist and
cool, temperature 99.1 F., pulse 130, blood pressure
78/60. The complaint is localized in the head and ears,
the general conformation of which is that of an early
Greek amphora. Note that the eyeballs are rolling sky-
ward and that the lips are puckered as though they had
bitten into a quince. A routine pocket analysis performed
upon admission, however, yielded no quinces, which sug-
gests that the trouble is seated elsewhere. The abdomen
is noticeably spastic and when percussed reacts with a
series of delicious little tremors. The case history, while
scanty, reveals that the subject was recently exposed to
a hang tag packed by the Irwill Knitwear Corporation in
one of its ladies' sweaters. A mild psychic trauma is indi-
cated, with increasing pressure, and syncope around the
corner as sure as God made little green apples.
Now don't get me wrong, men. Fm perfectly willing
to lie here under this sheet and be tickled by a pretty
probationer if it's going to advance the cause of science,
but confidentially, you're barking up the wrong tree.
There's nothing the matter with me; I'm just suffering
from a little sweater tag, and if you could let me rest here
a second I'll be tiptop in no time. I still can't understand
how it happened. Yesterday I was hunting through the
guest closet for a paper box when I ran across one con-
taining a pink-and-gray card, on the order of a dance pro-
gram, suspended from a loop of fuchsia-colored twine. It
showed a young woman attired in a sweater bearing the
words "Jane Inviir across her poitrine and a quaint biog-
raphy of the garment, as follows: "Years ago I was just
a little jacket for babies. In the Gay Nineties I went to
school and college, growing rough and tough and develop-
ing a turtle neck. The women adopted me for sports next,
but soon I was appearing everywhere all day long. Now I
am quite grown up and go out in the evening, too/'
Sponging a bead of moisture from my upper lip with a
delicate wisp of cambric, I turned the card over, prepara-
tory to grinding it under my heel. On the flap was a dainty
mandate entitled "Order of the Bath": "Please wash me
in lukewarm water with Ivory Flakes. Squeeze the suds
through me carefully— never scrub or twist me— rinse me
carefully, and roll me in a Turkish towel. Then lay mc
flat, stretch me to my original shape and dry me in the
shade away from all heat. Thank you. Jane Irwill."
You're welcome, sweetheart. I had always supposed
that merchandising reached its apogee in the Lux adver-
tisement which portrayed two articles of lingerie dis-
cussing their wearers' effluvia, for all the world like rival
stamp collectors, but this latest conceit deserves some
special decoration, like the Croix de Mal-de-Mer, second
class, with moist palms. The implication that only femi-
nine apparel is vocal, however, is pure sexual chauvinism
and eminently unfair, The next speaker, an elderly but-
ton-down, or polo shirt, has been known to me personally
for a number of years. It is currently retired to the coun-
try, from which it emerges periodically in a succession of
farewell tours, like the late Adelina Patti, but between
you and me and the compost, its race is well-nigh run.
Frankly, I can think of a number of better things to do
than to sit here and listen to a frayed old shirt shoot off its
face, but since we've come this far there's no turning back.
"Well, folks, I am duss an old Brooks Brothers shirt
and to look at me you would never dweam of all the sights
I've seen. I dess I will dwop this confounded prattle and
slip into something more comfy. Well, folks, it just seems
like yesterday that I first saw him staring into the showcase
at me. He and the other man were both sort of red in
the face, as if they had had too much to drink at lunch.
He was easily the best-looking thing I had ever seen—
great, broad shoulders almost a foot across, an adorable
little belly like a cantaloupe, and the cunningest ferret
eyes, which kept darting around on watch for the credit
" 'Hot zeugma!' I heard him murmur to his friend,
motioning toward me. 'How'd you like to go home with
that?' His friend whispered something back and they both
burst into a coarse guffaw. Naturally, I made out I hadn't
overheard, but my heart was going like a trip hammer and
all I could think of was Tlease, Lord, please, make him
take me. Ill work and Fll slave for him, only don't let
him get away.' Then I suddenly realized how hopeless the
whole thing was. We were worlds apart; I was just a com-
mon little domestic oxford weave from the wrong side ot
the Garment Center and he had everything— position and
money and breeding. I found out later that he had nothing
but a rusty old charge account, but at that moment it
wouldn't have mattered. A second later I almost fainted
dead away; he was saying something to the salesman and
pointing in at me. He had the most provocative, blurry
way of speaking— not exactly a lisp, more of a harelip ef-
fect. You felt that half the time he didn't know what he
was going to say next, and it gave him a kind of a loose-leaf
air that was utterly charming.
" 'Now for crisakes remember to shorten the sleeves
this time/ he was barking at the salesman. 'Every goddam
shirt you send me, the cuffs hang down to the knees*
What do you think I am, an orangutan?'
" 'Yes, sir/ the salesman said hastily, making a note on
" 'Oh, I am, am I?' he shouted. 'Did you hear that,
Leo? This four-eyed bastard called me an orangutan.
Here, help me over the counter. Put up your dukes, there!
I'm going to start swinging in a minute!'
" 'Now take it easy, tovarisch/ his friend pleaded, edg-
ing him toward the door. 'It's pretty warm in here. Maybe
that last brandy and soda—'
" 'Oh, so I'm drunk, eh?' he snarled, flinging aside his
friend's arm. 'Just an old broken-down barfly, hah? But
I'm good enough to sponge drinks off, aren't I? Thass a
fair-weather friend for you. All right for you, Jocko/
With that he collapsed on the floor and burst into tears.
1 never got the breaks/ he sobbed. 'Every man's hand
is against me. Beat me. Stone me.' It finally took the floor-
walker and two clerks from the glove division to get him
into a cab. The last I saw of him, his head was pillowed on
his friend's shoulder and he was yodelling 'Aupres de Ma
"Bright and early the next morning, I was waiting out-
side his apartment, all done up in tissue and quivering
with excitement. Through the cardboard box I heard a
doorbell and guttural voices.
" 'Who's that for, the lush in forty-two?'
" 'Yeah, is he home?'
" 'He's home all right. They brung him back in a pail
from the Copacabana. That's him groanin' now.' Soon
fingers started fumbling with my wrappings and I was
face to face with him. He seemed less boisterous, more
mature; in fact, he had aged fifteen years during the
night. His hands were trembling, his forehead burned
with fever, and a tracery of delicate purple veins stood out
in bas-relief on his nose. He goggled at me for a moment,
and then, with a bestial oath, flung me across the room,
demolishing a piece of bric-a-brac. Humiliated, stung by
his contempt, I cried out in pain. His face slowly turned
ashen and his sparse hairs rose en biosse with fright.
" 'Who said that?' he quavered, his eyes shifting about
fearfully. There's somebody in this room!'
" 'You rotter,' I choked. 'You thing. 9 His jaw dropped
and his tongue clacked against his teeth like castanets.
" 'Help!' he screamed suddenly. 'It talked! A talking
shirt!' He struck out blindly at me, went off balance, and
rolled over me, kicking and gouging. One of the pins in
my tail caught in his pajamas and his frenzy redoubled.
'Get it off me!' he squealed. 'I'm stabbed. Call a priest!'
The door opened and a woman in a dressing gown en-
tered, leisurely sipping a cup of coffee. She stood coldly
Surveying the poor wretch clawing the carpet.
" 'Well, Sweets/ she said tonelessly, 'are you ready foi
bed or are you going to play bean bag under the radiator
all day?' After a short, unequal tussle with his wife and
the maid, he was borne off whimpering to his couch. As
the maid threw me into the hamper with an obscure West
Indian malediction, his ululations were just beginning to
"He wore me only once, several months afterwards r
when he was tricked into lunching with a soiled dove in
a sordid boite in the East Sixties. Toward the end of the
afternoon, his vis-a-vis, overcome by his magnetism, seized
him in a grip of steel and began smothering his face with
kisses. In all justice to him, he fought off the dastardly
attack with every fibre of his being, but a smear of lipstick
on my collar proved to be his undoing. In the post-mortem
which ensued at home, his wife drew first claret and I was
banished to the country. I occasionally see him down
there, whenever the furnace needs cleaning or he tries
to simulate poverty in order to get an extension at the
bank. He still thinks he's a playboy, although his chins
have outgrown my neckband twice over and his paunch
flutters like a custard if he merely laces his shoes. Fm as
young as I ever was. That's a hell of a lot more than I can
say for him."
PHYSICIAN, STEEL THYSELF
Do yon happen to know how many tassels a
Restoration coxcomb wore at the knee? Or the kind of
chafing dish a bunch of Skidmore girls would have used
in a dormitory revel in 1911? Or the exact method of
quarrying peat out of a bog at the time of the Irish Corn
Laws? In fact, do you know anything at all that nobody
else knows or, for that matter, gives a damn about? If
you do, then sit tight, because one of these days you're
going to Hollywood as a technical supervisor on a million-
dollar movie. You may be a bore to your own family, but
you're worth your weight in piastres to the picture busi-
Yes, Hollywood dearly loves a technical expert, how-
ever recondite or esoteric his field. It is a pretty picayune
film that cannot afford at least one of them; sometimes
they well-nigh outnumber the actors. The Sherlock
Holmes series, for instance, employs three servants on a
full-time basis— one who has made a lifelong study of the
decor at 221-B Baker Street, a second deeply versed in the
great detective's psychology and mannerisms, and a third
who spots anachronisms in the script which may distress
Holmesians, like penicillin and the atomic bomb. An
ideal existence, you might think, and yet there have been
exceptions. I knew a White Russian artillery officer at
M-G-M, imported at bloodcurdling expense from Algeria
as adviser on a romance of the Foreign Legion, who
languished for two years in an oubJWte under the Music
Department. Over the noon yoghurt, his voice tremblett
as he spoke of his yearning to return to Russia, where
they were waiting to shoot him, but the director of
"Blistered Bugles" felt him indispensable. At last he de-
parted, with close to forty thousand rutabagas in his money
belt, a broken man. His sole contribution was that he
had succeeded in having "pouf" altered to "sacre bloo."
Another expert I met during the same epoch was a jovial,
gnarled little party named Settembrini, conceded to btf
the foremost wrought-iron craftsman in the country. He
had been flown three thousand miles to authenticate sev-
eral flambeaux shown briefly in a night shot of Versailles.
We subsequently chanced to be on the same train going
East, and except for the fact that he wore a gold derby
and was lighting his cigar with a first-mortgage bond, he
seemed untouched. "Fine place," he commented, flicking
ashes into the corsage of a blonde he had brought along
for the purpose. "Sunshine, pretty girls, grapefruit ten
for a quarter." I asked him whether the flambeaux had
met the test. "One hundred per cent," he replied, ''but
they threw 'em out. In the scene where Marie Antoinette
comes down the steps, a lackey holds a flashlight so she
don't trip over her feet."
The latest group of specialists to be smiled upon by
the cinema industry, it would appear, are the psycho-
analysts. The vogue of psychological films started by
Lady in the Dark has resulted in flush times for the
profession, and anyone who can tell a frazzled id from
a father fixation had better be booted and spurred for an
impending summons to the Coast. The credit title of
Spellbound, Alfred Hitchcock's recent thriller, for ex-
ample, carried the acknowledgment "Psychiatric se-
quences supervised by Dr. May Romm," and Sidney
Skolsky, reporting on a picture called Obsessed (formerly
One Mans Secret and before that One Woman's Secret) ,
states, "Joan Crawford is huddling with an eminent psy-
chiatrist who will psych her forthcoming role in The
Secret for her." A psychiatrist suddenly pitchforked into
Hollywood, the ultimate nightmare, must feel rather like
a small boy let loose in a toy store, but I wonder how long
he can maintain a spirit of strict scientific objectivity.
The ensuing vignette, a hasty attempt to adumbrate this
new trend, is purely fanciful. There are, naturally, no such
places as the Brown Derby, Vine Street, and Hollywood
Boulevard, and if there should turn out to be, I couldn't
Sherman Wormser, M.D., PhD., came out of the
Hollywood Plaza Hotel, somewhat lethargic after a heavy
Sunday brunch, and paused indecisively on the sidewalk.
The idea of taking a walk, which had seemed so inspired
a moment ago in his room, now depressed him immeas-
urably. To the south, Vine Street stretched away intermin-
ably—unending blocks of bankrupt night clubs, used-car
lots, open-air markets, and bazaars full of unpainted fur-
niture and garden pottery. To the north, it rose abruptly
in a steep hill crowned by a cluster of funeral homes and
massage parlors in tan stucco. Over all of it hung a warm
miasma vaguely suggestive of a steam laundry. Sherman,
moved aimlessly toward the boulevard and paused for
a brief self-inventory in the window of the Broadway-
Hollywood department store.
Most of Dr. Wormser's patients in New York, accustom-
ed to his neat morning coat and pencil-striped trousers,
would have had some difficulty in recognizing their father
confessor at the moment. He wore a pea-green play suit
with deep, flaring lapels, tailored of rough, towel-like ma-
terial, arbitrarily checked and striated in front but mys-
teriously turned to suede in back. Over a gauzy, salmon-
colored polo shirt he had knotted a yellow foulard hand-
kerchief in a bow reminiscent of George Primrose's Min-
strels, and on his head was sportily perched an Alpinist's
hat modelled after those worn by the tyrant Gessler.
Eight weeks before, when he had arrived to check on the
dream sequences of R.K.O/s Befuddled, he would not
have been caught dead in these vestments, but his sack
suits had seemed so conspicuous that, chameleon-like,
he soon developed a sense of protective coloration.
He had settled his hat at a jauntier angle and was turn-
ing away from the window when he became aware that
a passer-by was staring fixedly at him. The man wore an
off-white polo coat which hung open, its belt trailing on
the pavement. Underneath were visible pleated lavender
slacks and a monogrammed yachting jacket trimmed with
brass buttons. The face under the scarlet beret was oddly
"I beg pardon/' hesitated the stranger, "I think we—
you're not Sherman Wormser, are you?" At the sound
trf his voice, Sherman's mouth opened in delight. He
flung his arm about the man's shoulder's.
"Why Randy Kalbfus, you old son of a gun!" he
crowed. "Two years ago! The Mental Hygiene Conven-
tion in Cleveland!"
"Bull's-eye," chuckled Kalbfus. "I thought it was you,
but— well, you look different, somehow."
"Why— er— I used to have a Vandyke." Wormser felt
his cheeks growing pink. "I shaved it off out here. The
studio, you know. Say, you had one, too, for that matter.
What became of yours?"
"Same thing," Kalbfus admitted sheepishly. "My pro-
ducer said it was corny. He's got a block about psychia-
trists' wearing goatees."
"Yes, involuntary goatee rejection," nodded Wormser.
"Stekel speaks of it. Well, well. I heard you were in town.
Where you working?"
"Over at Twentieth. I'm straightening out a couple of
traumas in Delirious"
"You don't say!" Despite himself, Sherman's tone was
faintly patronizing. "I turned down that assignment, you
know. Didn't feel I could justify the symbolism of the
scene where Don Ameche disembowels the horse."
"Oh, that's all out now," said Kalbfus amiably. "That
was the early version."
"Well," said Sherman quickly, eager to retrieve himself,
"it's the early version that catches the Wormser, what?"
Kalbus laughed uproariously, less at the witticism than
because this was the first time anyone had addressed him
in three days.
"Look," he suggested, linking arms with Sherman, "let's
hop over to the Bamboo Room and have a couple of
Zombolas." On their way across to the Brown Derby, he
explained the nature of the drink to Wormser, who was
still a bit staid and Eastern in his choice of beverages.
"It's just a tall glass of rum mixed with a jigger of gin,
some camphor ice, and a twist of avocado," he said re-
"Isn't that a little potent?" asked Wormser dubiously.
"You're cooking with grass it's potent," returned his
companion pertly, if inaccurately. "That's why they
won't serve more than six to a customer." Seated in the
cool darkness of the bar, with three Zombolas coursing
through their vitals, the colleagues felt drawn to each
other. No trace of professional hostility or envy lingered
by the time they had finished reviewing the Cleveland
convention, the rapacity of their fellow-practitioners, and
their own staunch integrity.
"How do you like it out here, Randy?" Wormser in-
quired. "I get a slight sense of confusion. Perhaps I'm not
"You're inhibited," said Kalbfus, signalling the waiter
to repeat. "You won't let yourself go. Infantile denial
of your environment."
"I know," said Wormser plaintively, "but a few weeks
ago I saw Jack Benny in a sleigh on Sunset Boulevard—
with real reindeer. And last night an old hermit in a
pillowcase stopped me and claimed the world was coming
to an end. When I objected, he sold me a box of figs."
"You'll get used to it," the other replied. "I've been
here five months, and to me it's God's country. I never
eat oranges, but hell, can you imagine three dozen for a
"I guess you're right/' admitted Wormser. "Where
are you staying?"
"At the Sunburst Auto Motel on Cahuenga," said
Kalbfus, draining his glass. "I'm sharing a room with
two extra girls from Paramount."
"Oh, I'm sorry. I— I didn't know you and Mrs. Kalbfus
"Don't be archaic. She's living there, too." Kalbfus
snapped his fingers at the waiter. "Once in a while I fall
into the wrong bed, but Beryl's made her emotional ad-
justment; she's carrying on with a Greek in Malibu. Inter-
esting sublimation of libido under stress, isn't it? I'm
doing a paper on it." Wormser raised his hand ineffec-
tually to ward off the fifth Zombola, but Kalbfus would
not be overborne.
"None of that," he said sharply. "Come on, drink up.
Yes, sir, it's a great town, but I'll tell you something
Sherm. We're in the wrong end of this business. Original
stories— that's the caper." He looked around and lowered
his voice. "I'll let you in on a secret, if you promise not
to blab. I've been collaborating with the head barber
over at Fox, and we've got a ten-strike. It's about a
simple, unaffected manicurist who inherits fifty million
"A fantasy, eh?" Wormser pondered. "That's a good
"What the hell do you mean, fantasy?" demanded
Kalbfus heatedly. "It happens every day. Wait till you
hear the twisteroo, though. This babe, who has every-
thing— houses, yachts, cars, three men in love with her
—suddenly turns around and gives back the dough/'
"Why?" asked Wormser, sensing that he was expected
"Well, we haven't worked that out yet," said Kalbfus
confidentially. "Probably a subconscious wealth phobia.
Anyway, Zanuck's offered us a hundred and thirty G's
for it, and it isn't even on paper."
"Holy cow!" breathed Wormser. "What'll you do with
all that money?"
"Ive got my eye on a place in Beverly," Kalbfus con-
fessed. "It's only eighteen rooms, but a jewel box—indoor
plunge, indoor rifle range, the whole place is indoors.
Even the barbecue."
"That can't be," protested Wormser. "The barbecue's
"Not this one," beamed Kalbfus. "That's what makes
it so unusual. Then, of course, I'll have to give Beryl her
settlement when the divorce comes through."
"You— you just said everything was fine between you,"
"Oh, sure, but I've really outgrown her," shrugged
Kalbfus. "Listen, old man, I wouldn't want this to get
into the columns. You see, I'm going to marry Ingrid
A strange, tingling numbness, like that induced by
novocain, spread downward from the tips of Wormser's
ears. "I didn't know you knew her," he murmured.
"I don't," said Kalbfus, "but I saw her the other night
at the Mocambo, and she gave me a look that meant
only one thing." He laughed and swallowed his sixth
Zombola. "It's understandable, in a way. She must have
"Known what?" Wormser's eyes, trained to withstand
the unusual, stood out in high relief.
"Oh, just that I happen to be the strongest man in
the world," said Kalbfus modestly. He rose, drew a deep
breath, and picked up the table. "Watch," he ordered,
and flung it crisply across the bar. Two pyramids of
bottles dissolved and crashed to the floor, taking with
them a Filipino bus-boy and several hundred cocktail
glasses. Before the fixtures had ceased quivering, a task
force of bartenders and waiters was spearing down on
Kalbfus. There was an obscure interval of scuffling, during
which Wormser unaccountably found himself creeping
about on all fours and being kicked by a fat lady. Then
the shouts and recriminations blurred, and suddenly he
felt the harsh impact of the pavement. In a parking lot,
eons later, the mist cleared and he was seated on the
running board of a sedan, palpating a robin's egg on his
jaw. Kalbfus, his face puffier than he last remembered
it, was shakily imploring him to forgive and dine at his
motel. Wormser slowly shook his head.
"No, thanks." Though his tongue was a bolt of flannel,
Sherman strove to give his words dignity. "I like you,
Kalbfuth, but you're a little unthtable." Then he got to
his feet, bowed formally, and went into the Pig'n Whistle
for an atomburger and a frosted mango.
PALE HANDS I LOATHE
T© paraphrase Omar the Tentmaker slightly (oh,
come on, it can't hurt to paraphrase Omar the Tentmaker
just a teeny bit), I often wonder what the editors of the
Woman's Home Companion buy one half so precious as
the thing they sell. The thing they sell me, specifically,
is nepenthe; whenever my salt loses its savor, I know I
can find heartsease in those shiny, optimistic pages,
whether in the latest prize-winning recipe for macaroni
and-cheese timbales or some ingenious method of canning
babies for winter use. More than a companion, yet less
than a mistress, it is my home away from home, my wife
away from wife, my dream girl of the magazine world.
Woman s Home Companion, I adore you.
It was, therefore, with a sense of disquietude that I
detected in the February issue a certain monotony I had
never noticed before. The infants gurgled on as darling
and cuddlesome as ever; the meat loaves and veal birds
were, if anything, even more economical than they had
been in the January number. But instead of the rich
pastiche of lingerie and souffles I expected in the adver-
tising columns, I found only a series of variations on a
single theme— the care of Milady's hands. For page after
page, the manufacturers of innumerable unguents and
lotions endlessly conjugated the tragedy of rough, chapped
hands. "My poor hands!" snuffled the housewife in the
advertisement for Pacquins Hand Cream. "They made
me feel like an old turkey/' and to dramatize the full
poignancy of her affliction, the victim was shown in a
second phase transmuted into an aged, weather-beaten
turkey. "I use hinds— that honey of a lotion/' crowed
another housewife, hefting a coal scuttle and celebrating
you-know-whose Koney and Almond Cream. Jergens
Lotion took a rather more romantic approach and por-
trayed a handsome officer nibbling at his fiancee's fingers,
while Campana Cream Balm presented a pair of war
sweethearts over the hushed caption: "It was one of
those golden, delirious moments . . . impulsively his hands
sought mine . . . and together we welcomed the first tender
touch of romance." Toushay, the "Beforehand" Lotion,
demonstrated its versatility with four mysterious vignettes
of a young lady stroking a kitten, washing her undies, sim-
pering at some convalescent soldiers, and finally nuzzling
her warrior, home on leave.
It was our humdrum old friend, Ivory Soap, though,
that put its competitors to shame and set my ordinarily
robust stomach palpitating like a plate of junket. It de-
picted a personable matron fondly discussing her mate
over the telephone with some undisclosed critic, as fol-
lows: "Hard-boiled? Him? Don't you believe it! What
hard-boiled husband would tramp halfway across town
to get that special coffee cake I adore so for Sunday
breakfast? Would a really tough guy take time out now
and then— like in the middle of his favorite pecan pie-
just to grab my hands and kiss them? Yes— gruff as he
seems to others, in private, he fairly raves about my pretty
I have searched diligently through Freud, Jung, Brill,
Menninger, and Zilboorg for a clue to this interesting
form of hand worship, but can find no analogous instance,
either with or without pecans. I suspect, however, that if
we pull on a pair of waders and whip the husband's stream
of consciousness, using the kind of tackle Mr. Joyce em-
ployed on Leopold Bloom, we may catch a few shiners.
Here, then, is the interior monologue of Lester Wagen-
hals, incisive, hard-bitten office manager of the Puissant
Valve & Flange Corporation, as he sits at his desk about
five o'clock of a mid-winter afternoon:
"Funny taste in my mouth. Must be that noodle ring
I had for lunch. Urr-r-gh. Good thing I keep extra bag of
pecans in desk drawer. Careful now. Secretary might walk
in. Nasty little snooper. Lovely hands, though. Wish I
could bite them. Better not. Can't afford scandal. Just
one quick bite? No. Complications. Lose my head. One
bite leads to another. Road to hell paved with soft white
hands. Good thought there. Wasting my time in business.
Should have been a poet. Plenty of mazuma in poetry if
a man went at it efficiently. Snug studio in Greenwich
Village. High jinks. Red wine and red-hot mammas. Turn
your damper down. Life in the old boy yet. Man is as
young as he feels. Lick my weight in wildcats.
"Ought to finish this letter to Abernethy about those
bushings. Yours oi the 14 inst. to hand. There I go again.
Hands all over the place. Try again. Cannot see our way
clear to take consignment off your hands. No good. Sleep
on it. Best not to rush into these things, anyway. Past five
o'clock. Eunice waiting. Comb my hair and wash my.
Steady. Lean against filing cabinet a second. Buzzing in
the temples. Never should have eaten that noodle ring.
Scores die as police blame poisoned noodle ring. FBI
uncovers secret noodle ring in Midwest. Wait. Wipe
perspiration off forehead. Reception clerk might blab to
J.B. Can hear them talking right now. Wagenhals slowing
up. Nice old duffer but can't keep abreast of modern
methods. Organization full of dead ducks. Terminating
as of the first. One month's salary in recognition of the
service you have ren. Appreciate if you will explain system
to Mr. Samish, the dirty sneak you have been protecting
right in your own office. Law of the jungle, dog eat dog,
root or die. Alert, capable executive desires wide-awake
connection. Sorry, position just filled. Sorry, looking for
aggressive younger man. Will call you if anything. Com-
pelled to foreclose. Beg to advise that insurance has lapsed.
Some bank with facilities for handling smaller accounts
like yours. Eunice taking in washing. Rough laundry
hands. No more pecan pies. Bellevue. Oh, my God.
"Buck up now. Walk slowly past their desks. Bunch of
clock-watchers. Lazy, no-good riffraff. Give them the old
glare. Snap their heads off. Carlson at the water-cooler.
O.K., Carlson, your goose is cooked. Running Hoise
sticking out of Bender's pocket. Knock them off tonight.
No, tomorrow will do. Much too kindhearted for my
"There. Lucky my getting this elevator car. Cute bru-
nette, that operator. Pity she wears gloves. Bet she has
superb hands. Ask her for a peek? No, might misunder-
stand. Invite her out for cocktail some time. Pretend I'm
big advertising man. Need model with special type of
fingers to pose for national account. Strictly business, no
monkey-shines. Careful not to frighten her off. Discuss
various types of hands. Purely scientific spirit. Index of
character, they say. Yours, for example. Cold hands, warm
heart. Paternal smile, old enough to be your father. Cas-
ually mention wife. Hopeless invalid. Haven't had any-
thing to do with her for years. Pile it on. Man needs pair
of soft white hands to come home to. Home is where
the hands are. Just the same, better use pseudonym.
Never can tell about these dolls. Lead you on and then
the shakedown. Man in Cleveland who fell for a lady
elevator starter. Turned out to be head of Midwest black-
mail ring. Stripped him of his last noodle. Urr-r-gh. That
"Fresh air feels good. Where did I say meet Eunice?
Astor? Plaza? No, Biltmore lobby. Walk along Sixth. In-
teresting shops around here. Secrets of the Polynesian
Love Cults. Figure Drawing for Second-Year Sadists. Nice
prints in this art store. French kid wearing porcelain cas-
serole on head. Pretty racy if you could read the text.
Plaster-of-Paris Venus. Ditto foot and hand. Chap who
designed that never saw woman's hand. Do better with
my eyes closed. Outrage the way they mulct unsuspecting
public. Law against it. Letter to the Times. Couldn't palm
it off on yours truly. Palm off hand. Neat phrase. Work
"Green light. Cross now. Too late, catch it next corner.
Automat coming up. Just time for fast pecan bun before
Eunice. No, mustn't. Sure to smell it on my breath. Use
cloves. Only an evasion. Can't hurt to look in window,
though. Row on row of delicious, crackly. Who's to tell?
Never know when some friend of Eunice. Oh, rats. Only
live once. Long time dead. Long time no pecan bun. Look
up and down first. Hurry.
"Easy now. People looking at you. Stop trembling.
Debonair stroll. Man of the world dropping in for late-
afternoon snack. Nothing out of the ordinary. Draw hot
chocolate first. Enough. Don't bother with saucer. Now
the pastry. More pecans on the twist than the buns. Count
them. Don't be a sheep. Get your money's worth. Look
out, manager watching you. Three nickels, quickly. Some-
thing wrong. Door is stuck. Hit it. Pound it. There, it's
opening. So is the panel in back. Woman's hand reaching
through. Exquisite, tapering fingers redolent of Ivory
Soap. One little kiss. Opportunity of a lifetime. Grab
them, you fool! Yum yum yum yum yum Capital. Now
all I have to do is talk my way out of this."
INSERT FLAP **A»
AND THROW AWAY
One stifling summer afternoon last August, in
the attic of a tiny stone house in Pennsylvania, I made a
most interesting discovery: the shortest, cheapest method
of inducing a nervous breakdown ever perfected. In this
technique (eventually adopted by the psychology depart-
ment of Duke University, which will adopt anything) , the
subject is placed in a sharply sloping attic heated to 340 °F.
and given a mothproof closet known as the Jiffy-Cloz to
assemble. The Jiffy-Cloz, procurable at any department
store or neighborhood insane asylum, consists of half a
dozen gigantic sheets of red cardboard, two plywood doors,
a clothes rack, and a packet of staples. With these is in-
cluded a set of instructions mimeographed in pale-violet
ink, fruity with phrases like "Pass Section F through Slot
AA, taking care not to fold tabs behind washers (see Fig.
9)." The cardboard is so processed that as the subject
struggles convulsively to force the staple through, it sud-
denly buckles, plunging the staple deep into his thumb.
He thereupon springs up with a dolorous cry and smites
his knob (Section K) on the rafters (RR). As a final de-
monic touch, the Jiffy-Cloz people cunningly omit four
of the staples necessary to finish the job, so that after in-
describable purgatory, the best the subject can possibly
achieve is a sleazy, capricious structure which would re-
duce any self-respecting moth to helpless laughter. The
cumulative frustration, the tropical heat, and the soft,
ghostly chuckling of the moths are calculated to unseat
the strongest mentality.
In a period of rapid technological change, however,
it was inevitable that a method as cumbersome as the
Jiffy-Cloz would be superseded. It was superseded at ex-
actly nine-thirty Christmas morning by a device called the
Self-Running 10-Inch Scale-Model Delivery-Truck Kit
Powered by Magic Motor, costing twenty-nine cents.
About nine on that particular morning, I was spread-
eagled on my bed, indulging in my favorite sport of mouth-
breathing, when a cork fired from a child's air gun mys-
teriously lodged in my throat. The pellet proved awkward
for a while, but I finally ejected it by flailing the little
marksman (and his sister, for good measure) until their
welkins rang, and sauntered in to breakfast. Before I could
choke down a healing fruit juice, my consort, a tall, regal
creature indistinguishable from Cornelia, the Mother of
the Gracchi, except that her foot was entangled in a roller
skate, swept in. She extended a large, unmistakable box
covered with diagrams.
"Now don't start making excuses," she whined. "It's
just a simple cardboard toy. The directions are on the
"Look, dear," I interrupted, rising hurriedly and pull-
ing on my overcoat, "it clean slipped my mind. I'm sup-
posed to take a lesson in crosshatching at Zim's School of
"On Christmas?" she asked suspiciously.
"Yes, it's the only time they could fit me in," I coun-
tered glibly. "This is the big week for crosshatching, you
know, between Christmas and New Year's."
"Do you think you ought to go in your pajamas?" she
"Oh, that's O.K./' I smiled. "We often work in our
pajamas up at Zim's. Well, goodbye now. If I'm not home
by Thursday, you'll find a cold snack in the safe-deposit
box." My subterfuge, unluckily, went for naught, and in
a trice I was sprawled on the nursery floor, surrounded by
two lambkins and ninety-eight segments of the Self -Run-
ning 10-Inch Scale-Model Delivery-Truck Construction
The theory of the kit was simplicity itself, easily intel-
ligible to Kettering of General Motors, Professor Milli-
kan, or any first-rate physicist. Taking as my starting point
the only sentence I could comprehend, "Fold down on
all lines marked 'fold down;' fold up on all lines marked
'fold up/ " I set the children to work and myself folded
up with an album of views of Chili Williams. In a few
moments, my skin was suffused with a delightful tingling
sensation and I was ready for the second phase, lightly
referred to in the directions as "Preparing the Spring
Motor Unit." As nearly as I could determine after twenty
minutes of mumbling, the Magic Motor ("No Electricity
—No Batteries— Nothing to Wind— Motor Never Wears
Out") was an accordion-pleated affair operating by top
sion, attached to the axles. "It is necessary," said the text,
"to cut a slight notch in each of the axles with a knife
(see Fig. C). To find the exact place to cut this notch,
lay one of the axles over diagram at bottom of page."
"Well, now we're getting some place!" I boomed, with
a false gusto that deceived nobody. "Here, Buster, run in
and get Daddy a knife."
"I dowanna," quavered the boy, backing away. "You
always cut yourself at this stage." I gave the wee fellow
an indulgent pat on the head that flattened it slightly, to
teach him civility, and commandeered a long, serrated
bread knife from the kitchen. "Now watch me closely,
children," I ordered. "We place the axle on the diagram
as in Fig. C, applying a strong downward pressure on the
knife handle at all times." The axle must have been a
factory second, because an instant later I was in the bath-
room grinding my teeth in agony and attempting to stanch
the flow of blood. Ultimately, I succeeded in contriving
a rough bandage and slipped back into the nursery with-
iout awaking the children's suspicions. An agreeable sur-
' prise awaited me. Displaying a mechanical aptitude clear-
ly inherited from their sire, the rascals had put together
the chassis of the delivery truck.
"Very good indeed," I complimented (naturally, one
has to exaggerate praise to develop a child's self-confi-
Idence). "Let's see— what's the next step? Ah, yes. 'Lock
into box shape by inserting tabs C, D, E, F, G, H, J, K,
and L into slots C, D, E, F, G, H, J, K, and L. Ends of
front axle should be pushed through holes A and B.' "
While marshalling the indicated parts in their proper or-
der, I emphasized to my rapt listeners the necessity of
patience and perseverance. "Haste makes waste, you
know," I reminded them. "Rome wasn't built in a day.
Remember, your daddy isn't always going to be here to
"Where are you going to be?" they demanded.
"In the movies, if I can arrange it/' I snarled. Poising
tabs C, D, E, F, G, H, J, K, and L in one hand and the
corresponding slots in the other, I essayed a union of the
two, but in vain. The moment I made one set fast and
tackled another, tab and slot would part company, thumb-
ing their noses at me. Although the children were too im-
mature to understand, I saw in a flash where the trouble
lay. Some idiotic employee at the factory had punched
out the wrong design, probably out of sheer spite. So that
was his game, eh? I set my lips in a grim line and, throw-
ing one hundred and fifty-seven pounds of fighting fat
into the effort, pounded the component parts into a
"There/' I said with a gasp, "that's close enough. Now
then, who wants candy? One, two, three— everybody off
to the candy store!"
"We wanna finish the delivery truck!" they wailed.
"Mummy, he won't let us finish the delivery truck!"
Threats, cajolery, bribes were of no avail. In their jungle
code, a twenty-nine-cent gewgaw bulked larger than a
parent's love. Realizing that I was dealing with a pair of
monomaniacs, I determined to show them who was mas-
ter and wildly began locking the cardboard units helter-
skelter, without any regard for the directions. When sec-
tions refused to fit, I gouged them with my nails and
forced them together, cackling shrilly. The side panels
collapsed; with a bestial oath, I drove a safety pin through
them and lashed them to the roof. I used paper clips,
bobby pins, anything I could lay my hands on. My fingers
fairly flew and my breath whistled in my throat. "You
want a delivery truck, do you?" I panted. "All right 111
show you!" As merciful blackness closed in, I was on my
hands and knees, bunting the infernal thing along with
my nose and whinnying, "Roll, confound you, roll!"
"Absolute quiet," a carefully modulated voice was
saying, "and fifteen of the white tablets every four hours."
I opened my eyes carefully in the darkened room. Dimly
I picked out a knifelike character actor in a Vandyke beard
and pencil-striped pants folding a stethoscope into his
bag. "Yes," he added thoughtfully, "if we play our cards
right, this ought to be a long, expensive recovery." From
far away, I could hear my wife's voice bravely trying to
control her anxiety.
"What if he becomes restless, Doctor?"
"Get him a detective story," returned the leech. "Or
better still, a nice, soothing picture puzzle— something
he can do with his hands."
FAREWELL, MY LOVELY
Add Smorgasbits to your ought-to-know department,
the newest of the three Betty Lee products. What in the world!
Just small mouth-size pieces of herring and of pinkish tones. We
crossed our heart and promised not to tell the secret of their
tinting.— Clementine Paddleford's food column in the Herald
The "Hush-Hush" Blouse. We're very hush-hush about his
name, but the celebrated shirtmaker who did it for us is famous
on two continents for blouses with details like those deep yoke
folds, the wonderful shoulder pads, the shirtband bow!— RusseJcs
adv. in the Times.
I came down the sixth-floor corridor of the Arbogast
Building, past the World Wide Noodle Corporation,
Zwinger & Rumsey, Accountants, and the Ace Secretarial
Service, Mimeographing Our Specialty. The legend on
the ground-glass panel next door said, "Atlas Detective
Agency, Noonan & Driscoll," but Snapper Driscoll had
retired two years before with a .38 slug between the
shoulders, donated by a snowbird in Tacoma, and I owned
what good will the firm had. I let myself into the crummy
anteroom we kept to impress clients, growled good morn-
ing at Birdie Claflin.
"Well, you certainly look like something the cat
dragged in," she said. She had a quick tongue. She also
had eyes like dusty lapis lazuli, taffy hair, and a figure that
did things to me. I kicked open the bottom drawer of hei
desk, let two inches of rye trickle down my craw, kissed
Birdie square on her lush, red mouth, and set fire to a
"I could go for you, sugar," I said slowly. Her face was
veiled, watchful. I stared at her ears, liking the way they
were joined to her head. There was something complete
about them; you knew they were there for keeps. When
you're a private eye, you want things to stay put.
"A woman by the name of Sigrid Bjornsterne said she'd
be back. A looker."
"She'd like you to think so."
I nodded toward the inner office to indicate that I was
going in there, and went in there. I lay down on the
davenport, took off my shoes, and bought myself a shot
from the bottle I kept underneath. Four minutes later,
an ash blonde with eyes the color of unset opals, in a
Nettie Rosenstein basic black dress and a baum-marten
stole, burst in. Her bosom was heaving and it looked even
better that way. With a gasp she circled the desk, hunt-
ing for some place to hide, and then, spotting the ward-
robe where I keep a change of bourbon, ran into it. I
got up and wandered out into the anteroom. Birdie was
deep in a crossword puzzle.
"See anyone come in here?"
"Nope." There was a thoughtful line between her
brows. "Say, what's a five-letter word meaning 'trouble'?"
"Swede," I told her, and went back inside. I waited the
length of time it would take a small, not very bright boy
to recite Ozymandias, and, inching carefully along the
wall, took a quick gander out the window. A thin galoot
with stooping shoulders was being very busy reading a
paper outside the ^nstede store two blocks away. He
hadn't been there an hour ago, but then, of course, neither
had I. He wore a size seven dove-colored hat from Brown-
ing King, a tan Wilson Brothers shirt with pale-blue
stripes, a J. Press foulard with a mixed red-and-white fig-
ure, dark blue Interwoven socks, and an unshined pair of
ox-blood London Character shoes. I let a cigarette burn
down between my fingers until it made a small red mark,
and then I opened the wardrobe.
"Hi," the blonde said lazily. "You Mike Noonan?" I
made a noise that could have been "Yes," and waited.
She yawned. I thought things over, decided to play it
safe. I yawned. She yawned back, then, settling into a
corner of the wardrobe, went to sleep. I let another ciga-
rette burn down until it made a second red mark beside
the first one, and then I woke her up. She sank into a
chair, crossing a pair of gams that tightened my throat as
I peered under the desk at them.
"Mr. Noonan," she said, "you— you've got to help me."
"My few friends call me Mike," I said pleasantly.
"Mike." She rolled the syllable on her tongue. "I don't
believe Fve ever heard that name before. Irish?"
"Enough to know the difference between a gossoon and
"What is the difference?" she asked. I dummied up;
I figured I wasn't giving anything away for free. Her eyes
narrowed. I shifted my two hundred pounds slightly,
lazily set fire to a finger, and watched it burn down. I
could see she was admiring the interplay of muscles in
my shoulders. There wasn't any extra fat on Mike Noonan,
hut I wasn't telling hei that. I was playing it safe until I
knew where we stood.
When she spoke again, it came with a rush. "Mr.
Noonan, he thinks Fm trying to poison him. But I swear
the herring was pink— I took it out of the jar myself. If
I could only find out how they tinted it. I offered them
money, but they wouldn't tell/'
"Suppose you take it from the beginning," I suggested.
She drew a deep breath. "You've heard of the golden
spintria of Hadrian?" I shook my head. "It's a tremen-
dously valuable coin believed to have been given by the
Emperor Hadrian to one of his proconsuls, Caius Vitel-
lius. It disappeared about 1 50 a.d., and eventually passed
into the possession of Hucbald the Fat. After the sack of
/Vdrianople by the Turks, it was loaned by a man named
Shapiro to the court physician, or hakim, of Abdul Mah-
moud. Then it dropped out of sight for nearly five hun-
dred years, until last August, when a dealer in second-
hand books named Lloyd Thursday sold it to my hus-
"And now it's gone again," I finished.
"No," she said. "At least, it was lying on the dresser
when I left, an hour ago." I leaned back, pretending to
fumble a carbon out of the desk, and studied her legs
again. This was going to be a lot more intricate than I
had thought. Her voice got huskier. "Last night I brought
home a jar of Smorgasbits for Walter's dinner. You know
"Small mouth-size pieces of herring and of pinkish
tones, aren't they?"
Her eyes darkened, lightened, got darker again. "Hovf
did you know?"
"I haven't been a private op nine years for nothing
sister. Go on."
"I— I knew right away something was wrong when Wal
ter screamed and upset his plate. I tried to tell him the
herring was supposed to be pink, but he carried on like 2
madman. He's been suspicious of me since— well, ever
since I made him take out that life insurance."
"What was the face amount of the policy?"
"A hundred thousand. But it carried a triple-indemnit)
clause in case he died by sea food. Mr. Noonan— Mike"-^
her tone caressed me— -"I've got to win back his confidence.
You could find out how they tinted that herring."
"What's in it for me?"
"Anything you want." The words were a whisper. 1
leaned over, poked open her handbag, counted off five
"This'll hold me for a while," I said. "If I need any
more, 111 beat my spoon on the high chair." She got up.
"Oh, while I think of it, how does this golden spintria of
yours tie in with the herring?"
"It doesn't," she said calmly. "I just threw it in for
glamour." She trailed past me in a cloud of scent that
retailed at ninety rugs the ounce. I caught her wrist, pulled
her up to me.
"I go for girls named Sigrid with opal eyes," I said.
"Where'd you learn my name?"
"I haven't been a private snoop twelve years for noth-
"It was nine last time/'
"It seemed like twelve till you came along." I held the
clinch until a faint wisp of smoke curled out of her ears,
pushed her through the door. Then I slipped a pint of
rye into my stomach and a heater into my kick and went
looking for a bookdealer named Lloyd Thursday. I knew
he had no connection with the herring caper, but in my
business you don't overlook anything.
The thin galoot outside Gristede's had taken a powder
when I got there; that meant we were no longer playing
girls' rules. I hired a hack to Wanamaker's, cut over to
Third, walked up toward Fourteenth. At Twelfth a mink-
faced jasper made up as a street cleaner tailed me for a
block, drifted into a dairy restaurant. At Thirteenth some-
body dropped a sour tomato out of a third-story window,
missing me by inches. I doubled back to Wanamaker's,
hopped a bus up Fifth to Madison Square, and switched
to a cab down Fourth, where the second-hand bookshops
elbow each other like dirty urchins.
A flabby hombre in a Joe Carbondale rope-knit sweater,
whose jowl could have used a shave, quit giggling over
the Heptameron long enough to tell me he was Lloyd
Thursday. His shoebutton eyes became opaque when I
asked to see any first editions or incunabula relative to the
Clupea harengus, or common herring.
"You got the wrong pitch, copper," he snarled. "That
stuff is hotter than Pee Wee Russell's clarinet."
"Maybe a sawbuck'll smarten you up," I said. I folded
one to the size of a postage stamp, scratched my chin
with it. "There's five yards around for anyone who knows
why those Smorgasbits of Sigrid Bjornsterne's happened
to be pink." His eyes got crafty.
"I might talk for a grand."
"Start dealing." He motioned toward the back. I took
a step forward. A second later a Roman candle exploded
inside my head and I went away from there. When I
came to, I was on the floor with a lump on my sconce the
size of a lapwing's egg and big Terry Tremaine of Homi-
cide was bending over me.
"Someone sapped me," I said thickly. "His name was—"
"Webster," grunted Terry. He held up a dog-eared
copy of Merriam's Unabridged. "You tripped on a loose
board and this fell off a shelf on your think tank."
"Yeah?" I said skeptically. "Then where's Thursday?"
He pointed to the fat man lying across a pile of erotica,
"He passed out cold when he saw you cave." I covered
up, let Terry figure it any way he wanted. I wasn't telling
him what cards I held. I was playing it safe until I knew
all the angles.
In a seedy pharmacy off Astor Place, a stale Armenian
whose name might have been Vulgarian but wasn't dressed
my head and started asking questions. I put my knee in
his groin and he lost interest. Jerking my head toward the
coffee urn, I spent a nickel and the next forty minutes
doing some heavy thinking. Then I holed up in a phone
booth and dialled a clerk I knew called Little Farvel in
a delicatessen store on Amsterdam Avenue. It took a
while to get the dope I wanted because the connection
was bad and Little Farvel had been dead two years, but
we Noonans don't let go easily.
By the time I worked back to the Arbogast Building,
via the Weehawken ferry and the George Washington
Bridge to cover my tracks, all the pieces were in place.
Or so I thought up to the point she came out of the
wardrobe holding me between the sights of her ice-blue
"Reach for the stratosphere, gumshoe." Sigrid Bjorn-
sterne's voice was colder than Horace Greeley and Little
Farvel put together, but her clothes were plenty calorific.
She wore a forest-green suit of Hockanum woolens, a
Knox Wayfarer, and baby crocodile pumps. It was her
blouse, though, that made tiny red hairs stand up on my
knuckles. Its deep yoke folds, shoulder pads, and shirt-
band bow could only have been designed by some master
craftsman, some Cezanne of the shears.
"Well, Nosy Parker/' she sneered, "so you found out
how they tinted the herring."
"Sure— grenadine," I said easily. "You knew it all along.
And you planned to add a few grains of oxylbutane-cheri-
phosphate, which turns the same shade of pink in solu-
tion, to your husband's portion, knowing it wouldn't show
in the post-mortem. Then you'd collect the three hundred
g's and join Harry Pestalozzi in Nogales till the heat died
down. But you didn't count on me."
"You?" Mockery nicked her full-throated laugh. "What
are you going to do about it?"
"This." I snaked the rug out from under her and she
went down in a swirl of silken ankles. The bullet whined
by me into the ceiling as I vaulted over the desk, pinioned
her against the wardrobe.
"Mike/' Suddenly all the hatred had drained away an<§
her body yielded to mine. ''Don't turn me in. You cared
for me— once."
'It's no good, Sigrid. You'd only double-time me again."
"O.K. The shirtmaker who designed your blouse —
what's his name?" A shudder of fear went over her; sfie
averted her head. "He's famous on two continents. Come
on Sigrid, they're your dice."
"I won't tell you. I can't. It's a secret between this—
this department store and me."
"They wouldn't be loyal to you. They'd sell you out
"Oh, Mike, vou mustn't. You don't know what you're
"For the last time."
"Oh, sweetheart, don't you see?" Her eyes were tragic
pools, a cenotaph to lost illusions. "I've got so little. Don't
take that away from me. I— I'd never be able to hold up
my head in Russeks again."
"Well, if that's the way you want to play it . . ." There
was silence in the room, broken only by Sigrid's choked
sob. Then, with a strangely empty feeling, I uncradled
the phone and dialled Spring 7-3100.
For an hour after they took her away, I sat alone in
the taupe-colored dusk, watching lights come on and a
woman in the hotel opposite adjusting a garter. Then I
treated my tonsils to five fingers of firewater, jammed on
my hat, and made for the anteroom. Birdie was still scowl'
ing over her crossword puzzle. She looked up crookedly
"Need me any more tonight?"
"No." I dropped a grand or two in her lap. "Here, buy
yourself some Stardust."
"Thanks, I've got my quota." For the first time I caught
a shadow of pain behind her eyes. "Mike, would— would
you tell me something?"
"As long as it isn't clean," I flipped to conceal my bit-
"What's an eight-letter word meaning 'sentimental'?"
"Flatfoot, darling," I said, and went out into the rain.
MODERN LIBRARY GIANTS
A series of sturdily bound and handsomely printed, full-
sized library editions of books formerly available only in
expensive sets. These volumes contain from 600 to 1,400
THE MODERN LIBRARY GIANTS REPRESENT A
SELECTION OF THE WORLD'S GREATEST BOOKS
G76 Andersen & Grimm: Tales
G74 Augustine, St. : The City of God
G58 Austen, Jane: Complete Novels
G70 Blake, William & Donne, John: Complete Poetry
G2 Boswell, James : Life of Samuel Johnson
G17 Browning, Robert: Poems and Plays
G14 Bulfinch: Mythology (illustrated)
G35 Bury, J. B.: A History of Greece
G13 Carlyle, Thomas: The French Revolution
G28 Carroll, Lewis: Complete Works
G15 Cervantes: Don Quixote
G33 Collins, Wilkie : The Moonstone and The Woman in Whitt
G27 Darwin, Charles: Origin of Species and The Descent of
G43 Dewey, John: Intelligence in the Modem World: John
G70 Donne, John & Blake, William: Complete Poetry
G36 Dostoyevsky, Fyodor: The Brothers Karamazov
G60 Dostoyevsky, Fyodor: The Idiot
G51 Eliot, George: Best-Known Novels
G41 Farrell, James T.: Studs Lonigan
G82 Faulkner, William: The Faulkner Reader
G39 Freud, Sigmund: The Basic Writings
o Gibbon, Edward: The Decline and Fall of the
p? Roman Empire (complete in three volumes)
G25 Gilbert & Sullivan: Complete Plays
G76 Grimm & Andersen: Tales
G37 Hawthorne, Nathaniel: CompL Novels & Selected Tales
G78 Holmes, Oliver Wendell: The Mind and Faith of Justice
G19 Homer: Complete Works
G3 Hugo, Victor: Les Miserables
G18 Ibsen, Henrik: Eleven Plays
Gn James, Henry: Short Stories
G52 Joyce, James: Ulysses
G4 Keats & Shelley: Complete Poems
G24 Lamb, Charles : The Complete Works and Letters
G20 Lincoln, Abraham: The Life and Writings of Abraham
G84 Mann, Thomas: Stories of Three Decades
G26 Marx, Karl: Capital
G57 Melville, Herman: Selected Writings
G38 Murasaka, Lady: The Tale of Genji
G30 Myers, Gustavus: History of the Great American Fortunes
G34 Nietzsche, Friedrich: The Philosophy of Nietzsche
G88 CHara, John: 49 Stories
G55 O'Neill, Eugene: Nine Plays
G68 Paine, Tom: Selected Work
G86 Pasternak, Boris : Doctor Zhivago
G5 Plutarch: Lives (The Dryden Translation)
G40 Poe, Edgar Allan: Complete Tales and Poems
G29 Prescott, William H.: The Conquest of Mexico and The
Conquest of Peru
G62 Pushkin: Poems, Prose and Plays
G65 Rabelais : Complete Works
G12 Scott, Sir Walter: The Most Popular Novels (Quentin
Durward, Ivanhoe & Kenilworth)
G4 Shelley & Keats : Complete Poems
G32 Smith, Adam: The Wealth of Nations
G61 Spaeth, Sigmund: A Guide to Great Orchestral Music
G92 Spengler, Oswald: The Decline of the West (one volume)
G91 Spenser, Edmund: Selected Poetry
G75 Stevenson, Robert Louis: Selected Writings
G53 Sue, Eugene: The Wandering ]ew
G42 Tennyson: The Poems and Plays
G23 Tolstoy, Leo: Anna Karenina—tr. revised
Gi Tolstoy, Leo: War and Peace
G49 Twain, Mark: Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn
G50 Whitman, Walt: Leaves of Grass
G83 Wilson, Edmund: The Shock of Recognition
G77 An Anthology of Famous American Stories
G54 An Anthology of Famous British Stories
G67 Anthology of Famous English and American Poetry
G8 1 An Encyclopedia of Modern American Humor
G47 The English Philosophers from Bacon to Mill
G16 The European Philosophers from Descartes to Nietzsche
G31 Famous Science-Fiction Stories
G85 Great Ages and Ideas of the Jewish People
G89 Great Classical Myths
G72 Great Tales of Terror and the Supernatural
G9 Great Voices of the Reformation
G87 Medieval Epics
G48 The Metropolitan Opera Guide
G46 A New Anthology of Modern Poetry
G69 One Hundred and One Years Entertainment
G93 Parodies: An Anthology from Chaucer to Beerhohm and After
G90 Philosophies of Art and Beauty: Readings in Aesthetics from
Plato to Heidegger
G21 Sixteen Famous American Plays
G63 Sixteen Famous British Plays
G71 Sixteen Famous European Plays
G45 Stoic and Epicurean Philosophers
G22 Thirty Famous One-Act Plays
G66 Three Famous Murder Novels, Before the Fact, Francis Iles,
Trent's Last Case, E. C. Bentley, The House of the
Arrow, A. E. W. Mason
Gio Twelve Famous Plays of the Restoration and Eighteenth Cen-
tury ( 1 660-1 820): Dryden, Congreve, Wycherley, Gay, etc.
G56 The Wisdom of Catholicism
G59 The Wisdom of China and India
G79 The Wisdom of Israel
Due Returned Due Returned
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